How Abortion Pill Ruling Fits into CA Access

A container with boxes of Mifepristone at the Alamo Women’s Clinic in Carbondale, Illinois on April 20, 2023. Photo by Evelyn Hockstein, Reuters

Ever since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe vs. Wade two years ago, California’s Democratic leaders have sought to make the state a haven for abortion rights. They persuaded voters to enshrine the right to an abortion in the state constitution, approved a bill package to shore up reproductive rights and passed a law in May to allow Arizona doctors to temporarily provide abortion services for their patients in California.

So even though the high court’s ruling Thursday preserves access to the abortion pill mifepristone, writes CalMatters health reporter Kristen Hwang, Gov. Gavin Newsom and others cautioned that the fight isn’t over and that reproductive rights could still be under threat — even in California.

  • Newsom, on social media: “While a sigh of relief, SCOTUS’ decision today was decided on standing — not merits. … Make no mistake: radical anti-abortion activists will stop at nothing to deny women their rights to access reproductive care.”

Former Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins echoed the sentiment, saying in a statement that continued access to medical abortions “is the bare minimum.” She added that the ruling will only force anti-abortion groups “to change their plan of attack.”

The case will now be sent back through the lower courts, as Alliance Defending Freedom, the anti-abortion group representing the plaintiffs, said it would continue the legal fight. Idaho, Missouri and Kansas have been authorized to join the case as plaintiffs. Because states provide access to health care services, this could potentially sidestep Thursday’s ruling that the alliance alone didn’t have standing to sue because it wasn’t directly affected by the Food and Drug Administration’s expansion of mifepristone access.

  • Erin Hawley, senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom Senior, in a statement: “We are disappointed that the Supreme Court did not reach the merits of the FDA’s lawless removal of commonsense safety standards for abortion drugs. … And we are grateful that three states stand ready to hold the FDA accountable for jeopardizing the health and safety of women and girls across this country.”

In anticipation of the court battles to come, Attorney General Rob Bonta issued a statement reiterating the justice department’s stance: “No matter how many lawsuits they file or challenges they bring … we remain unwavering in our commitment to ensure that our state continues to be a safe haven” for reproductive health care.

Thursday’s decision marked the first time the high court ruled on an abortion challenge since overturning Roe v. Wade. Since then, local resistance to expanding abortion services has also cropped up, notably in Beverly Hills and the Inland Empire where officials have halted the opening of new abortion clinics.

Learn more about the abortion pill case in Kristen’s story.

Maternity wards closing

The morning after giving birth, Detranay Blakenship holds her child, Myla Sqmone Grace Thimbrel, at Martin Luther King Community Hospital in Los Angeles, on March 23, 2024. Photo by Jules Hotz for CalMatters

Maternity wards have been closing across California, including in Los Angeles County. CalMatters health care reporters Ana B. Ibarra and Kristen Hwang — with photojournalist Jules Hotz and producer Robert Meeks — have video versions of their story about why the closures are happening and how one hospital is still delivering babies. Watch one here and the other here.

The segments are part of SoCalMatters, which airs at 5:58 p.m. weekdays on PBS SoCal and is available on YouTube.

This article was originally published by CalMatters.


Written by CalMatters is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media venture explaining California policies and politics. (Articles are published in partnership with

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