Last week, the Supreme Court of the United States revived a pre-COVID FDA requirement that mandated that people seeking to get abortions through the use of abortion drugs must go in person to pick up their abortion medication. This ruling is the first on reproductive rights with the new Justice, Amy Coney Barrett, whose anti-abortion stance was widely opposed.
Requiring in person pickups at clinics, pharmacies, and healthcare providers creates an additional hurdle for people seeking an abortion. Mandating it during a pandemic will add yet additional exposure to communities that have disproportionately suffered the effects of COVID-19. Communities of color already face lack of access to public transportation and affordable healthcare, making this ruling another form of bureaucratic red tape that only serves to restrict access to healthcare procedures.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor dissented the majority opinion, stating “This country’s laws have long singled out abortions for more onerous treatment than other medical procedures that carry similar or greater risks. Like many of those laws, maintaining the F.D.A.’s in-person requirements” for picking up the drug “during the pandemic not only treats abortion exceptionally, it imposes an unnecessary, irrational and unjustifiable undue burden on women seeking to exercise their right to choose.”
The precedent this ruling gives us is a potential glimpse of the future of the conservative and anti-women’s rights slant that this conservative-majority SCOTUS is prepared to deliver. The future of reproductive rights lands squarely in the hands of the court, and unfortunately we’re anticipating future rulings that further erode women’s health rights and their right to economic self-autonomy.