How a nationwide abortion ban would limit my access to life-changing arthritis medication

Abigail Meyers, Staff Writer

I was around seven years old when I was diagnosed with juvenile idiopathic arthritis. It’s similar to rheumatoid arthritis given the joint pain and swelling it causes, but it can also cause growth problems in youth affected by it. 

Over time, I learned to navigate life with an invisible illness and thankfully, in 2020, reached remission and have been at that status ever since. The potential of relapse is like an umbrella that has always lingered over my head. This figurative umbrella could break at any moment—with the symptoms of arthritis raining over me once again. 

When I started treatment, I was put on several medications; I ultimately stuck with one called methotrexate for most of my life. I haven’t been on it in over two years, however. Frankly, if I relapse, I might not be able to get on this medication again. All of this is thanks to a potential nationwide abortion ban. 

You may think I’m crazy for thinking a woman’s right to her body is connected to my swollen joints, but it is. When Roe v. Wade was overturned in June 2022, I didn’t think of this either. I was worried for the people around the country who were losing access to autonomy over their bodies and thankful for my right to choose in my home state. 

However, I kept seeing Roe v. Wade in the news and got even more intrigued when I saw “methotrexate” in the same sentence as the name of the court case. What does my arthritis medication have to do with a court case about bodily autonomy?

I read this BuzzFeed headline in shock while aimlessly scrolling through my Instagram explore page. It told the story of someone with rheumatoid arthritis who takes the same medication that I do. 

They aren’t currently or planning to become pregnant according to the article, but were no longer able to take their methotrexate as it is a medication that can be used for abortions. Several other people with various other autoimmune diseases, like lupus and even types of cancer that require methotrexate, are experiencing the same problem and were mentioned in the article. 

Although I live in a state where the right to control my own body is protected, it got me wondering: if there is a nationwide abortion ban, and I need to go on methotrexate again, am I next? Am I someone who won’t get the medication that’s controlled their condition for years, all because the government wants to control the bodies of people who get pregnant? 

The Arthritis Foundation published a statement on June 30, 2022, offering points of contact for people who are struggling to get their methotrexate prescription filled and various other resources. 

There’s so much more I can say about this, but all I can think to say is that I sincerely hope you voted in the 2022 midterms if you were eligible to. People who depend on certain medications to simply live their lives deserve access to them, no matter what. You’ve probably seen this all over social media, but it’s true. “Vote like your rights depend on it—because they do.”