The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved mifepristone, a key abortion drug, 23 years ago, and experts say it has been found to be safe, a claim a group of anti-abortion groups and four doctors challenge in seeking revocation of its federal approval. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek announced the state will secure a three-year supply of mifepristone, one of two drugs used to terminate a pregnancy and manage miscarriages, amid lawsuits and an expected U.S. Supreme Court ruling on access to the medication.
“By challenging the FDA’s authority over mifepristone, the lower court decisions set an alarming precedent of putting politics above established science, medical evidence, and a patient’s health, life, and well-being with potential implications beyond this one medication,” Kotek said in a news release.
The state government intends to partner with Oregon Health & Science University to secure the supply of 22,500 doses. Kotek’s office and the Oregon Health Authority first asked health care providers in the state for their thoughts on the ongoing court battles and whether additional state support was necessary, according to the news release.
The health authority told the Capital Chronicle on Monday that it was not yet stockpiling mifepristone and was exploring “all options” to ensure access to safe, legal and effective abortion care.
The move comes one day before the U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to announce whether it will allow a Texas ruling to strike down the approval of mifepristone by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The ruling would have taken effect on April 14, but the U.S. Supreme Court paused its implementation pending its own opinion.
Kotek’s office said she will also direct Oregon’s licensing boards to issue guidance clarifying that the state supports providers continuing to prescribe, dispense and use mifepristone regardless of the decision issued by the U.S. Supreme Court. Kotek has also pledged that Oregon government officials will not extradite individuals for criminal prosecution for receiving, providing or supporting patients seeking reproductive health care in Oregon.
“To our providers, to the patients who live in Oregon or have been forced to come to our state for care, and to those who are helping people access the care they need, know that I have your back,” Kotek said.
Oregon is a plaintiff in a competing lawsuit led by Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s office calling on the FDA to lift the restrictions placed on mifepristone’s use. A federal judge in Washington has not yet ruled on the case, but ordered the FDA not to make any changes to the approval or accessibility of the drug in the meantime. Including Washington and Oregon, 15 other states and the District of Columbia joined the lawsuit as plaintiffs and are not expected to be affected by the outcome of the Texas case while the Washington judge’s order is in place.
Kotek joins Democratic governors of several states across the country who took similar action, including in Washington and Massachusetts. The governors of New York and California stockpiled misoprostol, the second drug in the two-step regimen for abortion and miscarriage care. If misoprostol becomes the only drug patients can access for medication abortion after the court’s decision, they might experience more side effects, such as cramping, nausea, vomiting and fever, health care professionals warn.
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