Boxes of mifepristone, the first pill to be given in a medical abortion, are prepared for patients at the Women’s Reproductive Clinic of New Mexico in Santa Teresa, the United States, January 13, 2023.
Evelyn Hockstein Reuters
A coalition of a dozen Democratic attorneys general sued the Food and Drug Administration on Friday to force the agency to drop all remaining restrictions on the abortion pill, the latest in an escalating series of legal battles over access to the drugs.
Attorneys general asked a federal court in the Eastern District of Washington to declare that the abortion pill mifepristone is safe and effective and that any remaining restrictions on the drug are unconstitutional.
The lawsuit was led by Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson and Oregon Secretary General Ellen Rosenblum. The attorneys general of Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Rhode Island and Vermont were also part of the lawsuit.
The attorneys general also asked the court to prevent the FDA from taking any action that would remove mifepristone from the market or reduce its availability.
When combined with misoprostol, mifepristone is the most common method of abortion in the United States, accounting for about half of all abortions.
The lawsuit, filed Friday, puts the FDA in the middle of the nation’s deep divisions over access to abortion following the Supreme Court ruling that returned Roe v. Wade lifted last summer.
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A coalition of anti-abortion doctors has sued the FDA in a Texas federal court to overturn mifepristone’s more than 20-year-old approval and remove the drug from the US market.
The FDA approved mifepristone in 2000, but imposed restrictions on how the drug is delivered. The agency has gradually eased these restrictions over the years, removing the requirement for in-person delivery.
But there are still some regulations.
In January, the FDA allowed retail pharmacies to dispense mifepristone if they go through a certification process. The patient must have a prescription from a healthcare provider certified under a federal program that oversees mifepristone.
Certified pharmacies can ship the pill through the mail, but the FDA says they must use mailing services that provide tracking information.
CV And Walgreens have said they are going through the certification process, but they will only dispense mifepristone if it is legal to do so under both state and federal law. At least 12 states have banned abortion with few exceptions, and other states have stricter restrictions on the drug than the FDA calls for.
Republican attorneys general have warned CVS and Walgreens against shipping mifepristone into their states.
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