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AG Nessel Joins Multistate Coalition to Fight Back Against Decision to Block Medication Abortion Access
April 12, 2023
LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel 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 issue a stay of the district court’s ruling which, if allowed to take effect, would halt the over two-decade-old approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the medication abortion drug, mifepristone. AG Nessel and the coalition of 24 attorneys general warn that revoking federal approval for mifepristone will drastically reduce access to safe abortion care and miscarriage management for millions of people across the country, endangering lives and trampling states’ authority to protect and promote access to abortion.
“With the fall of Roe, the defense of women’s access to reproductive health care is more important than ever,” Nessel said. “I am committed to ensuring that Michigan will remain a safe haven for women to have access to safe, reliable medication abortion via drugs like mifepristone, which has been used effectively for over 20 years. I stand firmly with my colleagues in asking the Court of Appeals to stay the effect of this dangerous and unprincipled ruling while the federal government appeals."
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 U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to stay its approval of mifepristone, which happened in 2000. The court’s order does not take effect immediately, as the district court put its ruling on hold for seven days to allow the federal government and the drug manufacturer an opportunity to appeal. AG Nessel and the coalition are urging the appeals court to continue to stay the lower court’s unprecedented and legally erroneous decision pending the appeal, given the decades of clinical research and studies that have confirmed mifepristone’s safety and the critical role medication abortion plays in reproductive health care, particularly in low-income, underserved, and rural communities.
The coalition notes that if the lower court decision takes effect, it could drastically curtail abortion access for millions of Americans. According to current estimates, medication abortion accounts for over half -- approximately 54 percent -- of all abortions performed in the United States. Obstructing access to mifepristone would lead the demand for procedural abortions to significantly increase, resulting in later and more risky procedures, and more complicated and costly logistics for many patients, especially those where procedural abortion is unavailable. Moreover, lack of access to safe abortion care leads to worsened health outcomes and higher mortality, especially for Black women.
Joining AG Nessel in filing the amicus brief are the attorneys general of Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin.