NC Republicans in Congress ask Supreme Court to restrict medication abortion

Demonstrators rally in support of abortion rights at the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC, April 15, 2023. (Photo by ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP) (Photo by ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images)

By Michael McElroy

March 4, 2024

Seven of the nine North Carolina Republicans in Congress were among the nearly 150 anti-abortion lawmakers who filed a brief to the court as it weighs whether to add new barriers to the highly safe and effective medication.

Nearly every Republican member of North Carolina’s Congressional delegation asked the US Supreme Court last week to overturn expert medical guidance and make it harder for women across the country to get medication abortion. 

Mifepristone, which is used in combination with another drug, is the most common form of abortion and is exceedingly safe and effective, doctors say

But seven North Carolina lawmakers were among 150 Republicans in the US House and Senate who filed a brief to the court last Thursday arguing that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was wrong to loosen some restrictions on the drug over the last few years. The brief also argues that allowing the drug to be prescribed and sent through the mail violates a long-dormant law prohibiting sending abortion supplies through the postal service. 

Under such an interpretation of this 150-year-old law, known as the Comstock Act, any clinic that gets supplies shipped across state lines could be found in violation of the law, even in states that have protections for abortion in the state constitution. 

The case—which is set to be heard by the Supreme Court on March 26—is is the biggest fight over reproductive healthcare since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in 2022. 

The North Carolinian lawmakers who signed on to the brief are:

US Sen. Ted Budd 

Rep. Chuck Edwards

Rep. Virginia Foxx

Rep. Richard Hudson

Rep. Patrick McHenry

Rep. Greg Murphy

Rep. David Rouzer

Rep. Dan Bishop, who is running for NC Attorney General and will face a tight race in November, did not sign the brief, but previously called for a national abortion ban. Sen. Thom Tillis also did not sign. 

Mifepristone is safer than Tylenol

The claims that mifepristone is unsafe are false and not at all born out by evidence.

Every medication has some health risks, and there are some associated with mifepristone. But serious reactions are rare, and Tylenol and Viagra have far higher rates of serious side effects. 

The anti-abortion lawmakers wrote in their brief that “Mifepristone carries significant risks for women and girls, and the FDA exacerbated these risks by unlawfully deregulating chemical abortion drugs.” 

This is not true.

The FDA conducted several studies before the drug was approved, and many more studies since then, doctors say, have shown it to be safe and effective. 

“Mifepristone is one of the safest medications on the market today,” Dr. Katherine Farris, Chief Medical Officer of Planned Parenthood South Atlantic and an abortion provider in Charlotte, told us in 2023. 

“It has an insanely low complication rate. It has essentially no side effects, and it is incredibly effective as part of a combination of pills, and it has been more studied than many other medications that are used all the time.”

Author

  • Michael McElroy

    Michael McElroy is Cardinal & Pine's political correspondent. He is an adjunct instructor at UNC-Chapel Hill's Hussman School of Journalism and Media, and a former editor at The New York Times.

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