12 States Are Pushing Back Against Excessive Restrictions on the Abortion Pill
In the midst of an unprecedented federal lawsuit in Texas involving the abortion pill mifepristone, 12 pro-choice states are now suing the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) over its limitations on the drug.
The lawsuit — filed late last week by officials in Washington, Oregon, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Rhode Island, and Vermont — alleges that the FDA’s “excessive restrictions” on the pill “have no basis in medical science.” Currently, patients and their prescribing physicians must sign agreements that mifepristone will be used to end a pregnancy. Plaintiffs in the suit want to nix these requirements and make the pill more accessible.
“The federal government has known for years that mifepristone is safe and effective,” Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson said in a statement. “In the wake of the Supreme Court’s radical decision overturning Roe v. Wade, the FDA is now exposing doctors, pharmacists, and patients to unnecessary risk.”
Yes, you read that correctly: This is actually good news for abortion access.
According to CNN, the lawsuit appears to be a hedge from liberal states waiting to see how a federal judge rules in an alarming case out of Texas, which aims to revoke mifepristone’s FDA approval (and take it off shelves permanently). The concurrent litigation over the same drug could result in contradictory rulings, which would prompt the Supreme Court to intervene.
As The New York Times noted, the Washington case also asks the judge to affirm that the FDA’s “approval of mifepristone is lawful and valid,” and to enjoin the agency “from taking any action to remove mifepristone from the market or reduce its availability.”
Mifepristone is one of two drugs used to terminate pregnancies non-surgically in the United States. It is often paired with another drug called misoprostol for a two-step protocol, although the mifepristone is effective on its own, too. It was approved by the FDA in 2000 and has been used safely for decades.
In 2020, more than 50 percent of people who had abortions in medical facilities used a combination of mifepristone and misoprostol. That percentage has likely risen in recent years, although the dearth of accurate data on abortions makes it difficult to say definitively.
Following last June’s shocking repeal of Roe v. Wade, which guaranteed abortion access nationwide for nearly 50 years, states are now able to determine whether abortions are allowed. In some states, such as Wyoming, medication abortions are currently the only way to terminate a pregnancy without crossing state lines; as we speak, Republican lawmakers in Wyoming are actively attempting to outlaw them.
This is precisely why abortion advocates are sounding the alarm over the aforementioned court case in Texas. If that suit gains traction, it could jeopardize access to mifepristone for pregnant people nationwide — and yes, that includes pro-choice states.
The decision rests in the hands of conservative federal Judge Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, a Trump-era appointee who could very well side with the suit’s anti-abortion plaintiffs. He is expected to issue a ruling soon.
Both lawsuits — the Washington suit, which would bode well for abortion access, and the Texas case, which could have catastrophic consequences — paint a fitting picture of a nation divided over reproductive rights. According to Axios, a total of 17 states have banned or severely restricted abortions in the wake of Roe‘s reversal. That includes Texas, which began enforcing a pre-Roe ban last August.
Abortions are safe, common, nothing to be ashamed of or fear. Unfortunately, they are increasingly difficult to come by in post-Roe American. One JAMA study from last November found that one-third of Americans who can get pregnant now have to travel more than an hour away to reach their nearest abortion provider.
Before you go, check out these quotes from celebrities who shouted their abortions:
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