South Dakota AG, government threatens felony charges for pharmacists prescribing abortion pills

South Dakota’s Republican governor and attorney general issued a threatening letter to the state’s pharmacists on Tuesday in response to a recent move by the Biden administration to relax restrictions on the provision of abortion pills amid the state’s nationwide assault. GOP on reproductive freedom.

The letter from Governor Kristi Noem and AG Marty Jackley begins by saying that after that
Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organizationthe U.S. Supreme Court ruling that was overturned Roe against Wade last year, abortion became illegal in South Dakota except to save the pregnant woman’s life. It is one of 14 states where abortions are now largely unavailable.

The letter states that “in South Dakota, any person who administers, prescribes, or procures a drug or drug to a pregnant woman with intent to cause an abortion is guilty of a felony.”

In a policy change long advocated by medical experts and rights campaigners, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) earlier this month formalized a regulatory change to allow U.S. pharmacies to dispense mifepristone, one of the two drugs often used together for a drug abortion.

Referring to that development, the letter says that “under South Dakota law, pharmacies, including drugstore chains, are prohibited from purchasing and dispensing abortion-inducing drugs with intent to cause an abortion, and are subject to felony prosecution under South Dakota law. despite the recent FDA ruling.”

As
The associated pressreported Tuesday:

The [FDA’s] change could expand access at online pharmacies. People can get a prescription through a telehealth consultation with a health professional and then receive the pills by mail, where permitted by law.

Yet the impact of the rule change in states like South Dakota has been dulled by laws restricting abortion broadly and the pills in particular. Legal experts foresee years of litigation over access to the pills as abortion rights advocates file test cases to challenge state restrictions.

Amanda Bacon, the executive director of the South Dakota Pharmacists Association, said in an email that she was not aware of any South Dakota pharmacies that had plans to participate in the federal program to distribute abortion pills.

The pro-choice Guttmacher Institute, which monitors policies across the country, labels all six states bordering South Dakota as restrictive on access to abortion to varying degrees — and South Dakota ranks among the 12 “most restrictive” states in the nation.

Since the Dobbs decision, states with pro-choice policies — especially those like Illinois, which is surrounded by states with abortion restrictions — have seen an influx of “health refugees.”

While the FDA’s recent move was widely seen as a step toward easing some of the pressure on clinics trying to help a growing number of patients fleeing states with forced birth policies, an ongoing legal battle over the The agency’s initial approval of mifepristone in 2000 could jeopardize access to the drug across the country.

Anti-choice doctors last month asked Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk—appointed to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas by former President Donald Trump—to overturn the FDA’s 2000 decision. The judge, who previously served as deputy general counsel at a conservative Christian legal advocacy group, could rule on Feb. 10.

If the Christian alliance that launched the attack on FDA approval “wins in federal district court, the Biden administration would appeal to the 5th Circuit in New Orleans, a conservative court with 12 of 16 active justices appointed by Republicans.” “, CNBCbe there Tuesday. “From there, the case could end up at the Supreme Court.”

South Dakota AG, government threatens felony charges for pharmacists prescribing abortion pills

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