Alabama committee advances ban on abortion pill

Published 5:34 am Thursday, February 24, 2022

An Alabama legislative committee on Wednesday advanced legislation seeking to outlaw the use of abortion pills to end unwanted pregnancies.

The House Judiciary Committee approved the bill that would make it a felony to prescribe or dispense the medications, such as RU-486, to induce an abortion. The bill now moves to the full House of Representatives.

Abortion pills are an increasingly common method of terminating early pregnancies. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that 42.3% of all abortions in 2019 were done by using medications.

“We think of abortion as going to an abortion facility and having a surgical abortion. But the new trend in abortion is chemical abortion,” Rep. Andrew Sorrell, the Republican sponsor of the bill, told the committee.

Kaitlin Welborn, reproductive rights staff attorney for the ACLU of Alabama, said the bill, “is not about women’s health.”

“Study after study has found that this medication is safer than either Tylenol or Viagra. Let’s call this bill what it is: another excuse for the Alabama Legislature to play doctor and meddle in the healthcare options available to people in this state,” Welborn said in a statement.

Some Republican-led states have attempted to put restrictions on the legal abortion method, including trying to ban providers from prescribing abortion medication via telemedicine.

A federal judge this month granted a preliminary injunction against a South Dakota rule that would make the state one of the hardest places in the U.S. to get abortion pills. The rule would have required women to go to the doctor’s office to take both pills.