Erin Hawley: The Woman Arguing Against the Abortion Pill

It was 2014, and Erin Morrow Hawley was fighting against the egg-laying hens of Missouri. Specifically, a new requirement that chicken cages have enough space for the hens to stand up, turn around and stretch out.

A law professor from five generations of ranchers and the wife of Senator Josh Hawley, Ms. Hawley joined a challenge to California, which required more spacious enclosures for hens laying eggs to be sold there. The state where she taught, Missouri, sold a third of its eggs to California, and Ms. Hawley believed that a blue state had no right to impose its values and rules on Missouri’s farmers.

She joined in a lawsuit against California’s attorney general at the time, Kamala Harris. A judge found that the challengers could show no direct injury and dismissed the case. Ms. Hawley continued teaching, and Ms. Harris became Joe Biden’s vice president.

Ten years later, Ms. Hawley, 44, is now at the center of one of the country’s most heated cultural battles about bodily autonomy, gender roles and abortion. On Tuesday, for the first time since the overturning of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court will once again consider nationwide limits on abortion access. And Ms. Hawley is slated to be the woman standing before the justices, arguing to sharply curtail access to the abortion pill.

The case centers on the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of mifepristone, a commonly available drug used in the majority of abortions in the country. Limiting medication abortion is a next frontier for the anti-abortion movement in the post-Roe era.

Ms. Hawley represents a group of anti-abortion doctors and an umbrella group of conservative medical associations that claim that the abortion pill — approved more than two decades ago — is a danger to women. The F.D.A. has pointed to substantial scientific evidence that the medication abortion is safe.

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