Skip to main content

Whitmer Calls on FDA to Reduce Barriers to Medication Abortion


July 21, 2022



Gov. Whitmer Calls on FDA to Reduce Barriers to Medication Abortion

Urges federal government to cut red tape preventing women from accessing essential reproductive care

LANSING, Mich. — Today, Governor Gretchen Whitmer sent a letter to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) urging the agency to remove burdensome restrictions on reproductive health care, specifically mifepristone, a safe, effective medication abortion pill. This action builds on the governor’s ongoing efforts to protect women and reproductive freedom after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v Jackson overturning a 49-year precedent set by Roe v Wade.

“Americans deserve control over their own bodies and access to reproductive health care no matter where they live or who they are, but today these fundamental rights are under attack and we must do more to protect women. That’s why I continue to take action, and urge action, at all levels to protect reproductive freedom,” said Governor Whitmer. “Today, I urged the FDA to remove burdensome restrictions on mifepristone, abortion medication that is safer than Tylenol, Viagra, and many other widely used medications. Right now, Michigan health care workers are going above and beyond to provide reproductive health care and facing surging demand. Internet searches for abortion clinics have increased over 1,300% since the decision in Dobbs and women are coming to Michigan from other states seeking reproductive care. We must use every tool in our toolboxes to protect women, including by cutting red tape so they can access the safe, effective medicine they need. Let’s get it done.”

The letter can be viewed here. 

Mifepristone Background

Currently, the FDA enforces Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy, or REMS, restrictions on mifepristone. These restrictions are a major roadblock for women seeking to access reproductive care. Eliminating REMS would remove a burden that threatens timely and essential reproductive health care. 

Leading medical organizations have found that mifepristone is both safe and effective, and several leading health associations, including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Medical Association, and the American Academy of Family Physicians, have advocated for the removal of the REMS. The medical community has generally opposed REMS requirements because they place an unnecessary burden on patients who want to access safe, effective medicine. In fact, mifepristone is safer than Tylenol, Viagra, and many other widely used medications.

Last year, the FDA announced it would not enforce the in-person dispensing requirement for medication abortion, including mifepristone, through the duration of the COVID-19 public health emergency. The agency went a step further, tweaking the REMS to permanently remove the in-person dispensing requirement. Today, the governor called on the FDA to remove the REMS restrictions altogether.

Governor Whitmer’s Actions to Protect Reproductive Freedom

  • 4/7: Filed a lawsuit to ask the Michigan Supreme Court to immediately resolve whether Michigan’s constitution protects the right to an abortion. This legal action against the 1931 law represents the first time a governor has filed a lawsuit to protect the right to an abortion since the release of the leaked draft opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson.
  • 4/7: Penned an op-ed in the Detroit Free Press explaining her action and highlighting that 7 in 10 Michiganders support the rights affirmed by Roe.
  • 5/3: Joined 16 other states to urge the United States Senate to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act and enshrine Roe’s protections in federal law.
  • 5/9: Penned an op-ed in the New York Times explaining why she isn’t waiting for Congress to act and urging fellow pro-choice governors, state representatives, private businesses, and citizens to take action to protect reproductive rights.
  • 5/25: Signed an executive directive instructing state of Michigan departments and agencies to identify and assess opportunities to increase protections for reproductive healthcare, such as contraception. The executive directive also instructs departments not to cooperate with or assist authorities of any state in any investigation or proceeding against anyone for obtaining, providing, or assisting someone else to obtain or provide reproductive healthcare that is legal where the health care is provided.
  • 6/23: Launched a new consumer website to educate Michiganders about the availability of no-cost contraception with most insurance plans.
  • 6/24: On the day of the Dobbs decision, filed a motion urging the Court to immediately consider her lawsuit.
  • 6/27: Followed up with an additional notice to the Court urging them to immediately consider her lawsuit.
  • 6/29: Sent a letter to Michigan’s insurers urging them to take steps to ensure Michiganders have coverage for reproductive health care to the fullest extent possible under current coverage.
  • 7/6: Joined with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to launch a public effort to educate Michiganders and health care providers about the difference between emergency contraception and medication abortion. The public effort will disseminate information about the differences between medication abortion and emergency contraception to all local health departments throughout Michigan, healthcare providers throughout the state, and the public.
  • 7/7: Called on the federal government to clarify and protect Michiganders’ right to cross the US-Canada border to seek reproductive health care or prescription medication including medication abortion.
  • 7/11: Urged President Biden to make birth control available over the counter without a prescription.
  • 7/13: Signed an executive directive refusing to extradite women or health care providers who come to Michigan seeking reproductive freedom.