Attorney General Bonta Continues to Fight for Meaningful Access to Medication Abortion as Case Reaches U.S. Supreme Court

Friday, October 13, 2023
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OAKLAND — California Attorney General Rob Bonta today joined a coalition of 24 attorneys general states in filing an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in a case involving mifepristone, which is widely used for medication abortion. The Biden administration is seeking review of a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine, et al. v. FDA, in which the court resurrected medically unnecessary restrictions on the dispensation of mifepristone. In today’s amicus brief, the coalition of 24 states urged the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse the Fifth Circuit’s Court of Appeals' decision and preserve full and complete access to mifepristone, arguing that access to medication abortion helps states protect the health and lives of their residents. The coalition states further asserted that the Fifth Circuit’s decision, if allowed to take effect, could disrupt access to the most common method of abortion, harming countless individuals in need of abortion care or management of pregnancy loss, with widespread implications for the healthcare system.

“To millions of Americans, meaningful access to medication abortion serves as a lifeline, and a key to a healthier and better future,” said Attorney General Bonta. “Medication abortion has been recognized for decades as exceedingly safe and effective — so safe that it presents a lower risk of serious complications than taking Tylenol, having a wisdom tooth removed, using Viagra, or getting a colonoscopy. California stands with our partners today in voicing our full support for patients’ meaningful access to this vital medication.”

Mifepristone is a safe and effective medication prescribed to patients who need critical, time-sensitive reproductive care, including for abortions and the treatment of miscarriages. Studies show that medication abortion allows people to get reproductive care as early as possible when it is safest, least expensive, and least invasive. It plays an important role in reducing barriers and promoting equitable access to healthcare, particularly for those who live in rural and underserved communities. Nationwide access to mifepristone currently remains legal, including in California.

On November 18, 2022, a group of plaintiffs led by the Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, seeking a preliminary injunction that would force the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to rescind or suspend its approval of mifepristone. The district court granted the preliminary injunction, and the case went up on appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. On August 16, 2023, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling affirming portions of the district court’s order and limiting access to mifepristone. The district court’s order is currently blocked from going into effect due to an emergency stay ordered by the U.S. Supreme Court in April. On September 8, 2023, the Biden administration and the sponsor of mifepristone filed petitions in the U.S. Supreme Court seeking review of the Fifth Circuit’s decision.

In today’s amicus brief, the coalition of states supported the petitions, arguing that if allowed to take effect, the Fifth Circuit’s ruling would:

  • Jeopardize the health, safety, and financial well-being of many pregnant people, by disrupting access to medication abortion and interfering with miscarriage management;
  • Deepen healthcare disparities by disproportionately impacting groups already underserved by the healthcare system, including people of color, low-income individuals, people with disabilities, and LGBTQ individuals; and
  • Add more stress to an already overwhelmed healthcare system by causing a drastic increase in pregnant patients forced to seek invasive procedures from hospitals and medical clinics already stretched thin.

Attorney General Bonta in today’s amicus brief joined the attorneys general of Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawai‘i, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia.

A copy of today’s amicus brief can be found here.

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