Abortion Pill Ruling May Help Republicans Minimize a Political Disadvantage


The Supreme Court’s decision to uphold access to a widely available abortion pill frustrated antiabortion activists. But it allowed Republicans to dodge a potentially toxic issue in the midst of a tight presidential race.

Medication abortion remains broadly popular: A series of surveys have found that a majority of Americans support access to medication abortion, though the public is split over whether it should be available without a prescription.

A ruling limiting access to the medication would have given Democrats another way to hammer their opponents on an issue that’s become politically damaging for Republican politicians.

Since the Supreme Court decision that overturned Roe v. Wade in 2022, Republican candidates have struggled to reconcile their party’s decades-old opposition to abortion rights with the issue’s shifting political reality.

Donald Trump has notably refused to state his position on abortion medication, promising in April to release a policy on the issue “over the next week.” His campaign did not immediately comment on the ruling.

On a call with reporters, supporters of President Biden’s campaign said Mr. Trump would impose a national ban on medication abortion through executive action, pointing to policy plans released by his allies that would reverse the F.D.A.’s approval of the drug. Aides said that Mr. Biden plans to address the issue at the first presidential debate, scheduled for later this month, contrasting his support for abortion rights with Mr. Trump’s position that the policy should be left for states to decide.

“Trump and his allies are laying the groundwork to ban medication abortion nationwide,” said Mini Timmaraju, the chief executive of Reproductive Freedom for All, an abortion rights organization. She blamed the former president — who appointed three of the court’s conservative justices — for overturning Roe v. Wade, which established the constitutional right to abortion, in 2022.

The ruling is unlikely to end efforts by the antiabortion movement to restrict abortion medication. Missouri, Kansas and Idaho, all states with Republican attorneys general, remain parties in the lower court case and could try to revive the litigation as new plaintiffs.

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