Two new cases regarding abortion rights in the U.S. are coming up before the high court. McCullen v. Coakley will involve a clash between freedom of speech and the right to access abortion without obstruction; Cline v. Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice is about medical procedures that require abortion-inducing drugs. As many states pass law after law to limit access to abortions, causing many clinics to close down, the country has seen a drastic shift in reproductive rights. These two new cases could further shape women’s sexual health experiences and endanger their lives at a time when female mortality rates are already on the rise. Salon offers more information on the two critical cases:

The first case is a review of Massachusetts’ so-called buffer zone law, which prohibits protests within 35 feet of abortion clinics, and could have implications for similar laws in Colorado and Montana. As Rosanna Cavallaro, a law professor at Suffolk University, recently told the Associated Press, the case will weigh the free speech rights of antiabortion protesters against a woman’s right to seek abortion services free from obstruction, threats and physical harm.

“Do you have the right to speak with a bullhorn right up to someone’s face?” she noted. “At some point, speech becomes intimidation and harassment.”

The second case, while receiving less public attention than recent high-profile antiabortion laws like North Dakota’s ban on abortion at six weeks and Texas’ omnibus law, could have major implications for non-surgical abortion and may determine the new fault lines of abortion access in the United States, as Linda Greenhouse recently noted in the Times:

[It’s] no accident that medical abortion (or medication abortion, as it is also known) is the latest flash point in the abortion debate. That may be counterintuitive, given the prolonged hand-wringing over “partial-birth” and other “late-term” abortions; medical abortion is most effective in the first six or seven weeks of pregnancy (by which time the embryo is about the size of a pencil eraser) and doesn’t work after nine weeks (still in the first trimester, which is when about 90 percent of all abortions take place)… medical abortion offers an end-run around the obstacles that for years have been a core part of opposition strategy.

Let’s hope this new term that started Monday won’t be remembered for limiting women’s rights nationwide.

—Posted by Natasha Hakimi

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