Neronha joins coalition challenging abortion pill ruling

R.I. ATTORNEY GENERAL Peter F. Neronha late Monday joined a multistate coalition challenging a Texas court ruling that would halt approval of a drug used in the most common method of abortion in the nation/ AP FILE PHOTO/ALLEN G. BREED

PROVIDENCE – Attorney General Peter F. Neronha late Monday joined a multistate coalition challenging a Texas court ruling that would halt approval of a drug used in the most common method of abortion in the country.

The amicus brief, filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, urges the court to stay the order issued April 7 by U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk that could restrict access to the abortion medication mifepristone as early as April 14 pending appeal.  

Neronha is part of a coalition of 23 attorneys general warning 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. 

If allowed to take effect, the Texas ruling would effectively undo the more than two-decade old approval of mifepristone by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. 

- Advertisement -

“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,” Neronha said. “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 5 million Americans.” 

Joining Neronha in filing the amicus brief are the attorneys general of Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, 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. 

Kacsmaryk stayed his ruling for a week so federal authorities could file a challenge. 

Adding to the confusion was a second opinion also released on April 7 by District Judge Thomas O. Rice, an Obama administration appointee, directing U.S. authorities not to make any changes that would restrict access to the drug in at least 17 states where Democrats sued in an effort to protect availability. 

The Food and Drug Administration in 2000 granted approval to mifepristone, one of two drugs used for medication abortion in the United States. There is essentially no precedent for a lone judge overruling the FDA’s medical decisions, and pharmaceutical executives signed a letter Monday warning that the ruling could endanger other medications. 

A growing number of states led by Democratic governors are stockpiling doses of drugs used in medication abortions, amid fears that a court ruling could restrict access to the most commonly used method of abortion in the nation. 

Massachusetts has purchased enough doses of mifepristone — one of two drugs used in combination to end pregnancies — to last for more than a year, Democratic Gov. Maura Healey said Monday. California has secured an emergency stockpile of up to 2 million pills of misoprostol, the other drug used in abortion medication, Gov. Gavin Newsom, also a Democrat, announced. 

Healey said the Kacsmaryk ruling threatens access to the medication even in states supportive of abortion rights. 

“It harms patients, undermines medical expertise, and takes away freedom. It’s an attempt to punish, to shame, to marginalize women. It’s unnecessary,” Healey said, surrounded by fellow Democratic lawmakers, including U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren. on the steps of the Massachusetts Statehouse. 

Newsom said the ruling by Kacsmaryk “ignores facts, science, and the law,” and puts the health of millions of women and girls at risk. 

The 15,000 doses in Massachusetts were purchased by the University of Massachusetts-Amherst at Healey’s request. 

Massachusetts health care providers have also agreed to buy additional quantities of mifepristone, according to Healey, who said the administration is dedicating $1 million to help providers contracted with the Department of Public Health to pay for the doses. 

While there are no plans yet in Connecticut to stockpile mifepristone, Attorney General William Tong said Monday that he has been contacting major pharmacy chains to remind them the drug is legal and they should not be influenced by pressure from GOP attorneys general in other states. 

”[I’m] obviously deeply disappointed that my colleagues have taken that action,” he said. “We’re pushing back on that. We’re in communication with all the big pharmacy chains, advising them of their rights and obligations here in Connecticut.” 

 (Material from The Associated Press was used in this report.)

No posts to display