November 2016

Proscribing Prescriptions: A Legal Analysis of State Off-Label Restrictions on Medication Abortion

by Kaiya A. Lyons
Since its decision in Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court has consistently upheld the right of a woman to choose to terminate a pregnancy before viability and without undue burden. However, the ability of a woman to exercise that right today is as intimately connected to her economic privilege and geographic location as it was in the days preceding that landmark ruling. Under the guise of protecting women from the “harms inherent in abortion,” major conservative gains in the 2010 midterm elections resulted in hundreds of anti-abortion measures flooding a majority of state legislatures. In the aftermath of that year’s midterm elections, the bulk of state legislatures passed an unprecedented number of harsh new restrictions on when, how, and even whether women may access abortion services. Because these laws are also substantially more obstructive than their predecessors, for low-income women, the economic impact of these restrictive regulations is extremely harmful.