In addition to the possible appointment of several U.S. Supreme Court justices, the next president will have far-reaching effects on abortion policy in this country. The next president could issue executive orders regarding the availability of abortion counseling at family planning clinics that receive federal funds and could potentially influence enforcement of federal laws protecting access to abortion clinics. According to the LA Times, the next president – as well as the current Administration – will have the ability to shape the availability and distribution of mifepristone in the United States.
By September 30, the FDA, under the Clinton Administration, is expected to rule on approval of mifepristone. Although it would be difficult for the next president to easily reverse a decision by the FDA to approve RU-486, he could severely limit or tighten the rules by which it would be distributed. Under the administration of President George Bush the drug was barred from import into the United States for personal use. Since Clinton’s election in 1992, his Administration has taken steps to make mifepristone available. In his first days in office, Clinton issued an Executive Order encouraging forward movement on mifepristone. In September of 1996 and February of 2000, the FDA issued “approveable letters” on the medication, ruling that it is safe and effective and asking for additional information on manufacturing and labeling.
Governor Bush, like his father, opposes the sale and use of RU-486 while Vice President Gore has said he supports a woman’s right to choose. Some experts speculate that if Bush is elected his Administration might take steps to interfere with distribution and even without scientific evidence raise questions about mifepristone safety, despite its long record of success.