As people across the state prepared to come together to be with loved ones for Passover, Easter, and Ramadan, two competing rulings came down on Friday evening around access to mifepristone, one of two medications commonly used for abortion by pills.
Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk issued a decision out of a Texas federal court in Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine v . FDA attempting to stay (aka halt) the FDA’s approval of mifepristone. While the immediate impact of the court’s decision is delayed for seven days to allow the Biden Administration to file an emergency appeal, the intent is clear: to ban access to mifepristone entirely.
The same evening, a Judge in the Eastern District of Washington issued a decision in a lawsuit brought by several states, including Rhode Island challenging the remaining REMS (Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy) restrictions on medication abortion care. Judge Thomas Rice has followed the science and blocked the FDA from “altering the status quo” regarding mifepristone for those plaintiff states.
What does this mean?
The FDA is now under two conflicting orders from lower courts. Neither rulings have changed access YET. The Washington case could be reviewed by the Supreme Court. This will likely create confusion and fear for people who need abortions and providers of abortion care. But let’s be 100% clear: creating chaos, confusion, and fear is the point.
Bans on abortion are never about making care safe or protecting people who need care. They are always attempting to make abortion care impossible to access. This could be their closest to achieving that goal in many states and limit options for abortion in every state, including ours. Learn more about the cases here.
We want to be very frank about a couple things:
- Medication abortion using mifepristone and misoprostol is exceptionally safe and highly effective. This has been affirmed over and over again in research that has been performed in the over 20 years since the FDA approved mifepristone.
- No matter the outcome of this case, abortion providers aren’t going anywhere and we are not going to stop fighting for access to the abortion care people need – and WANT!
We will never stop advocating for the needs, health and bodily autonomy of our communities. WE WILL CARE FOR ALL OF US! We will continue to keep you posted as the different cases develop — and of course to take action at the State House here at home to expand access to abortion by getting rid of bans on health coverage!
While we wait, it is important that we take a moment to thank the folks who are taking a stand with us, including Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Neronha: “More than five million Americans have used this drug since its approval and it has proven safer than many other well-known over-the counter drugs like Tylenol. But because it is used for abortion… the FDA has imposed unnecessary and burdensome restrictions on how it can be prescribed and dispensed.”
(Neronha in statement to the Boston Globe)
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CALL TO ACTION:
Can you take a moment today to call and/or email our attorney general to say “thank you” for this work to ensure access to mifepristone, speak up for the right to abortion, and his support of the Equality in Abortion Coverage Act? We are often charged with holding elected officials accountable when they are not showing up for abortion access. Let’s make sure that Attorney General Neronha is thanked for taking such strong leadership! Call (401-274-4400) or email ([email protected]) today!
THEN, save the date for our Grassroot Activists Lobby Day on May 4th from 2:30-4:30p to speak to your general assembly members about making Rhode Island a safe landscape for abortion access for all. RSVP here.
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We decide the care we get and how to plan our families and our futures. No one else. This is a tough moment and we feel this deeply, but together WE ARE STRONGER, we are making a difference, and we will keep pushing for what is right. What is needed is to achieve reproductive health, rights, and justice! Join us to do this as we work at the state and as part of the national movement, places we are all needed in.