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Federal Judges Issue Opposing Rulings on Mifepristone

Late Friday evening, two federal judges in different states issued contradictory decisions that could impact access to mifepristone, a drug used in nearly all medication abortions in the United States. In a Texas case, the Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine et al v. U.S. Food and Drug Administration et al court case, the judge stayed the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval of mifepristone. This will not go into effect until April 14th at the earliest. 

Less than an hour later, we saw a federal district court judge in Washington State issue a preliminary injunction in a case brought by 18 Democratic Attorneys General (Washington, Oregon, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Vermont, Maryland, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Maine, D.C., Hawaii) to safeguard access to mifepristone. The ruling prevents the FDA from altering the status quo with respect to the availability of mifepristone in the 18 plaintiff states. 

Much remains unclear about the combined effects of these two rulings. Here’s what we do know: the use of mifepristone remains legal at this point in time, and medication abortion will remain available at PPCWNY regardless of the final outcome of these cases. 

Mifepristone is one of two medications most commonly used in medication abortion in the United States and was approved for use by the FDA more than 20 years ago. Although it has been presented as a safety issue, the Alliance case has always been a politically motivated attack on reproductive rights. We know that the goal of extreme anti-abortion actors is to ban abortion, birth control, and other sexual and reproductive healthcare nationwide. Simply put, they want to fully control what people do with their bodies.

The truth is that medication abortion is incredibly safe and effective. It expands abortion access, reduces abortion stigma, and empowers patients to make their own private medical decisions. Mifepristone has been used by more than five million people in the United States since 2000 to safely end their pregnancies. 

At Planned Parenthood of Central and Western New York, we will continue to provide essential health care – including medication abortion. Everyone deserves the right to decide what is best for their body, their health, and their future. We are committed to ensuring access to medication abortion with as few barriers as possible. Patients who have questions about what this may mean for their particular circumstances are encouraged to contact our health centers.