How changes to an abortion pill could create an impact “larger than Dobbs”.

Telemedicine was instrumental in mitigating some of the negative consequences of the Supreme Court’s 2022 decision to overturn Roe v Wade and remove abortion access as constitutional rights were eliminated by Roe v. Wade overturn.

But some economists and healthcare experts warn of possible wider-reaching ramifications if an upcoming high court debate on mail-order abortion pills results in additional restrictions in years ahead.

As soon as Monday arrives, many Americans will have one eye on an issue as the United States Supreme Court hears an appeal of Danco Laboratories’ Mifepristone which allows its use without needing an appointment at clinic.

The Pill is designed to allow women to terminate an early gestation.

Caitlin Myers from Middlebury College economist acknowledges that many don’t comprehend that the Mifepristone case could dwarf Dobbs in 2022 v Jackson Women’s Health Organization case. “[T]he public doesn’t really grasp that Mifepristone could become as big a debate topic.”

“There could be future scenarios in which this case reduces abortion access substantially more,” she noted in a recent interview.

Oral arguments will begin on Tuesday and a decision could come down by this summer.

An additional complicating factor could arise from US discussions around in vitro fertilization (IVF). Policy decisions made either at Washington or at state levels might lead to economic effects for an entirely separate set of Americans if policy changes on that front occur.

Mifepristone has long been part of an emerging trend toward telemedicine that was catalyzed by COVID-19 pandemic, but then further expedited through Dobbs decision.

Supreme Court’s ruling has resulted in abortion bans across over a dozen states and thousands of residents responded by traveling for services or depending on telemedicine directly for care.

According to new data released last week from the Guttmacher Institute, medication abortion accounted for 63% of abortions performed within US healthcare system in 2023 – an increase from 53% reported two years prior. States that border areas where abortion has now become illegal experienced the sharpest surge.

“Telehealth was slowly expanding before suddenly taking off,” observed Sean Tipton, chief advocacy and policy officer for the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, adding “This applies equally well for reproductive healthcare as with anything else.

Researching Abortion Access and Economic Success
Abortion access has long been linked with economic success; one recent UC San Francisco study concluded that those able to gain access abortion were “more financially stable”, thus leading more ambitious, productive lives as a result.

Republicans tend to avoid looking at abortion from an economic viewpoint and instead prefer keeping its focus on moral considerations.

Professor Myers and others maintain that economic issues are inextricably interlinked.

Myers co-led an amicus brief in 2021 to the Supreme Court addressing the economic effects of abortion with over 150 academic colleagues from her field, testifying before Congress earlier this year on how Dobbs has proven itself “an inequality story, not a macro level shock story”, with its effects felt most acutely by poorer people of color living with abortion bans.

Tens of thousands of poorer residents living in 14 states where abortion is banned do not have access to abortion services outside their state and do not have the means to travel elsewhere for an abortion procedure, according to an Institute of Labor Economics study that estimated there have been roughly 30,000 additional births that might not have happened had abortion been made available everywhere in recent years.

On the contrary, Guttmacher Institute data indicate that abortion rates in the US have actually increased since Dobbs. While that might have happened anyway had the ruling never taken place, its magnitude far outshone any predictions of decline many had predicted; perhaps telemedicine explains this trend?

“When considering access, my initial thoughts focused on its reduction in banned states; not realizing it would actually increase across much of the nation because of this decision took me by surprise,” Myers notes, and adds: “That really caught me off guard”.

These trends ratchet up the stakes for an imminent decision about mifepristone. A conservative group called Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine filed this challenge to current policies which allow widespread access.

At issue here are FDA moves in 2016 and 2021 that allowed medication to be ordered online without seeing a physician, according to this group. They view such moves as being “arbitrary and capricious”.

The court could also consider current rules which allow use of Mifepristone until 10 weeks of pregnancy, though they declined to take up a separate case regarding whether its usage should be banned entirely.

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island stated at a congressional hearing held recently on this subject that restricting mail-order medication could cause “even greater economic damage than Dobbs did,” according to reports of Senator Whitehouse’s statements regarding Dobbs case.

Whitehouse also highlighted how IVF changes could negatively impact an “extremely different” group at that hearing. She raised several concerns related to in vitro fertilization as an option.

Right-wing extremists threaten in vitro fertilization too,” according to Mr. Leech.

IVF has recently come under scrutiny following Alabama Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist’s February ruling that frozen embryos may qualify as children under state law, prompting immediate backlash and prompting efforts within Alabama to shield IVF providers from legal liabilities.

Republicans often express support for IVF treatment and refute Whitehouse’s portrayal, yet this issue remains one of their key campaign trail issues.

Some GOP leaders, including House Speaker Mike Johnson, have considered IVF an “issue for each state,” opening up access levels depending on one’s location.

Economically speaking, any effects from potential IVF restrictions have only just begun being studied.

One Israeli research paper focused on access to in vitro fertilization following its free introduction in 1994 found that more access led to better labor market results and reduced gender gaps in career achievement.

Reducing IVF access may have unintended repercussions; Myers believes these restrictions would most likely impact people with higher incomes than average.

“These changes to IVF may disproportionately impact women with more education who have invested heavily in their careers and put off having children for longer,” according to she adds.

Politically, how the IVF issue will unfold remains to be seen; however, activists such as Tipton have initiated efforts to pass national legislation that could expand access to IVF services.

“There has been such bipartisan support for IVF that we hope policymakers make that more manifest,” states Mr. Wack, with many on his side of the debate believing this ethos could apply broadly across reproductive health concerns in 2024.

“Access to medical care should not depend upon a patient’s ZIP code.”

Published by Yahoo Finance.

By Thiruvenkatam

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