Attorney General Peter F. Neronha today joined a multistate coalition to challenge the decision issued by a district court judge in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas that could restrict medication abortion access nationwide. The amicus brief, filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, urges the court to stay the district court’s ruling pending appeal. If allowed to take effect, the Texas ruling would effectively undo the over two-decade old approval of the medication abortion drug, mifepristone by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Attorney General Neronha and a coalition of 23 attorneys general warn that revoking federal approval for mifepristone will drastically reduce access to safe abortion care and miscarriage management for millions of women across the country, endangering lives, and hindering states’ authority to protect and promote access to abortion.
“At a time when a woman’s right to choose, and access to safe abortion, is under assault across the country, it is more important than ever for our Office to take action to ensure that reproductive rights are protected,” said Attorney General Neronha. “This is exactly what we did when we joined with 17 other states in the lawsuit filed in Washington to protect access to safe medical abortion. A continued stay of this ruling would ensure continued and unfettered access to mifepristone in Rhode Island, a drug that has been approved by the FDA for over 20 years and taken safely by more than five million Americans. Through these actions, and the steps we have taken previously, this Office has demonstrated our commitment to the ongoing fight to ensure access to reproductive healthcare remains unimpeded.”
This ruling comes in a challenge brought by anti-abortion groups seeking to revoke the FDA’s approval of mifepristone. On April 7, Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, ordered the FDA to stay its approval of mifepristone, which approval was granted in 2000. The court’s order does not take effect immediately, as the district court put its ruling on hold for seven days to give the federal government and the drug manufacturer an opportunity to appeal.
Attorney General Neronha and the coalition filed this amicus in support in support of the FDA’s motion urging the appeals court to continue to stay the lower court’s unprecedented and legally erroneous decision pending the appeal.
According to current estimates, medication abortion accounts for over half, approximately 54% , of all abortions performed in the United States. Obstructing access to mifepristone could lead to increased demand for procedural abortions, resulting in more complicated and costly logistics for many patients, especially those for whom procedural abortion is unavailable. Decades of clinical research and studies have confirmed mifepristone’s safety and the critical role medication abortion plays in reproductive health care, particularly in low-income, underserved, and rural communities. Lack of access to safe abortion care leads to worsened health outcomes and higher mortality rates, especially for Black women.
Joining Attorney General Neronha in filing today’s amicus brief are the attorneys general of Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawai‘i, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia.
Today’s action is the latest in a series from Attorney General Neronha to protect access to healthcare for Rhode Islanders. By joining a lawsuit in the Eastern District of Washington earlier this year, Attorney General Neronha continued to protect access to mifepristone in Rhode Island. In 2019, the Attorney General Neronha joined local leaders in their efforts to codify Roe v. Wade and its progeny under the state’s Reproductive Privacy Act, and last year, Attorney General Neronha successfully defended a legal challenge to the Reproductive Privacy Act, reaffirming reproductive freedom in the state.