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Abortion pill access preserved in Supreme Court ruling. Here's what it means for Maryland.

Doctor explains how preserved abortion pill impacts Maryland
Doctor explains how preserved abortion pill impacts Maryland 02:34

BALTIMORE -- The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Thursday to preserve access to the widely used abortion medication mifepristone, which was used in nearly two-thirds of all abortions last year.

The pill will stay available for patients up to 10 weeks pregnant without having to visit their doctor.

This was the court's first abortion decision since conservative justices overruled Roe vs. Wade in 2022, which did away with the federal right to an abortion.

Dr. Jessica Lee, an OB/GYN at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, said the ruling is about more than just abortion access, but about access to essential healthcare.

While the Supreme Court decision is a safeguard and prevents doctors and anti-abortion groups from suing over the use of this drug, the debate over abortion access is far from over.

Women's access to mifepristone still largely depends on state laws, with only about half of states, including Maryland, allowing full access under terms approved by the federal government.

There are three states that are still seeking litigation over the use of mifepristone. Maryland is not one of them.          

What does the ruling mean?

The ruling to keep mifepristone on the market rejects a conservative lower court decision that made way for a lawsuit challenging the Food and Drug Administration's approach to regulating the drug.

Under the Supreme Court's decision, mifepristone can continue to be mailed to patients without an in-person doctor's visit.

"We know abortion is essential healthcare," Lee said.

Lee told WJZ the medication was used in more than 60% of abortions nationwide last year.

She said continued access to the pill protects healthcare workers who can prescribe it and allows women to receive the care they need at any point in their pregnancy.

"In allowing mifepristone to be prescribed or mailed, then we are really bringing reproductive healthcare to patients, and we know abortion is essential healthcare," Lee said.

Lee said the drug, which has been widely used for years, has been tested and proven to be safe. 

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