The National Health Law Program is carefully monitoring the rapidly changing availability of mifepristone and the Food and Drug Administration’s authority to regulate medication in light of two conflicting federal court rulings.
In the Texas case, Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk granted an injunction that may make mifepristone unavailable while a lawsuit challenging FDA approval continues. In the Washington case, Judge Thomas Rice blocked the FDA from making any changes to restrict access to mifepristone in the 17 states whose Democratic Attorneys General brought the lawsuit, along with the District of Columbia.
These unprecedented rulings have sown confusion in the health care system, as providers, patients, and policymakers rush to understand what the rulings mean for access to mifepristone, one of the two medications generally used in a medication abortion, which accounts for over half of all abortions in the United States.
The conflicting rulings mean that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is faced with two orders: one to suspend the approval of mifepristone, and the other to maintain its approval as of January 2023. This situation may lead to the Supreme Court being called upon to resolve the conflict and decide the merits of both cases.
The National Health Law Program decries the ruling in Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine v. FDA as part of the ongoing effort to restrict access to abortion in the United States. The science surrounding mifepristone is clear. Since its approval by the FDA over 20 years ago, it has since been used by millions of people to safely and effectively end their pregnancies.
Despite this, the recent ruling in Texas has the potential to have far-reaching consequences, including the possibility of taking mifepristone off the market entirely, even in states where abortion is still protected and accessible. This would needlessly deny people access to a crucial aspect of reproductive health care and put them in serious harm.
“The ruling in Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine v. FDA ignores the clear science showing the safety and efficacy of mifepristone in favor of an ideological agenda aimed at eliminating access to abortion. This is a rapidly evolving and unprecedented legal landscape but in the short-term this ruling will create confusion for people seeking abortion care and for the providers on the frontlines,” says Cat Duffy, Policy Analyst at NHeLP and a national expert on abortion access. “The National Health Law Program will continue to monitor this situation as the legal battle to protect mifepristone access continues. We will always fight to protect the health and rights of all people, including their right to access abortion.”
Cat Duffy, Policy Analyst at the National Health Law Program (NHeLP) in Washington, DC, is available to offer expert analysis on the potential implications of this case for reproductive health care access and abortion rights in the United States. With a particular focus on abortion coverage and access, Cat Duffy previously served as a State Policy Manager at Planned Parenthood Federation of America, where she worked on issues including abortion, telehealth, sex education, and gender-affirming health care access.
Media outlets seeking to cover this issue can schedule an interview with Cat Duffy by contacting Andy DiAntonio, NHeLP’s Director of Communications at [email protected].
The National Health Law Program is a non-profit organization that protects and advances access to quality health care and fundamental civil rights for low-income and underserved individuals and families across the United States. Learn more at www.healthlaw.org.