Note: soon after this ruling was released on April 7th, a federal judge in Washington state released a ruling in response to Attorneys General from 17 states seeking to protect access to mifepristone. That ruling stated FDA must not change the availability of mifepristone, which is in direct conflict with the Texas ruling. There will be updates to come, but for now, mifepristone is still available and its status for the next seven days will not change.
On April 7, 2023, a Texas judge ruled against the Federal Drug Administration in Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine v. FDA, which for the first time stays the agency’s approval of drug, in this case mifepristone, a drug used in medication abortion. Today’s ruling does not take effect for seven days, allowing time for the FDA and Biden Administration to respond.
While legal, medical, and government experts still need to carefully review this ruling, as well as subsequent emergency appeals, to determine its impacts on abortion across the country and in North Carolina, it’s clear from this medically and legally unsound decision that the outcome was predetermined when anti-abortionists took this case directly to a well-known hyperpartisan and anti-abortion, Trump-appointed judge.
For over twenty years, mifepristone has been an approved, safe, and effective option for abortion that empowers patients to take control of their personal healthcare decisions, often in the privacy of their own homes. Since the medication’s approval in 2000, the combined regimen of mifepristone and misoprostol accounts for more than half of abortions in the country, making it a common procedure. That is why anti-abortionists are so focused on restricting access to medication abortion, especially in the wake of the unpopular reversal of Roe in June 2022. Today’s ruling has the potential to impact abortion access in every state, including North Carolina, where we have become a destination for people seeking critical abortion care. This is an extremely harmful move in anti-choice efforts to ban abortion everywhere without exception.
The potential ramifications of today’s ruling will most directly impact those North Carolinians who already struggle to access any kind of healthcare, including People of Color, people living in rural communities, young people, people of lower income, LGBTQ+ people, and people living in immigrant communities. While the impact from today’s ruling still needs to be assessed, medication abortion remains legal and available in North Carolina.
Much remains to be seen about today’s ruling from Texas. What we know for sure is that this ruling is the result of political games that have no basis in medical science or legal precedent. Despite this ruling, advocates here in North Carolina and across the country will never stop fighting for reproductive freedom for all.