Tennessee Governor Bill Lee signed a bill that would make ordering an abortion pill via mail illegal if Roe v. Wade is overturned.
The FDA made the mail-order abortion pill, which allows someone to have an abortion at home, federally legal in December 2020.
But an overturned Roe means state lawmakers will soon have the power to restrict access to it.
On May 5, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee signed a bill that will outlaw mail-order abortion pills in the state and criminalize healthcare providers who break the rule. If caught, they would be charged with a felony, fined up to $50,000, and sentenced to up to 20 years in prison.
The bill, called HB2416, is not yet law. It will take immediate effect this summer if SCOTUS overturns Roe v. Wade, a Supreme Court case that says people have the federal right to seek abortion with minimal government intervention.
Tennessee's HB2416 is likely the first of many red states to roll out abortion pill bans in the coming months, reproductive rights experts say. Already, 19 states require some form of in-person visit in order for a person to get an abortion, even with the pill.
Medication abortion, where a person takes the pills misoprostol and mifepristone up to 11 weeks after their last menstrual cycle, has become an increasingly common way for people to end pregnancies safely at home, Insider previously reported. In 2020, 54% of all abortions in the US were medication abortions, according to the Guttmacher Institute.
As more states roll out abortion bans that limit access to reproductive care, experts say the abortion pill will become the most common way to seek an abortion.
In July 2020, the FDA made the abortion pill federally legal for mail orders during the pandemic, meaning anyone seeking the pill could access it through telehealth appointments and without leaving home. The FDA made federally legal mail-order abortion pills permanent in December 2020.
Often, people seeking abortions must travel thousands of miles, risking their jobs and safety, to get one, Insider previously reported. For many, a mail-order version of the pill made abortion more accessible, but access to it is in jeopardy.
With the recent SCOTUS leak signaling the court is likely to overturn Roe v. Wade, state lawmakers will soon be able to determine the legality of mail-order abortion pill access.
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