Attorney General William Tong issued the following statement on Thursday following the US District Court for the Eastern District of Washington’s new order.
Tong reiterated that the injunction protecting access to mifepristone in Connecticut and 17 other states remains in full force notwithstanding recent orders by courts in Texas.
“To Connecticut women and patients concerned and confused about the recent news regarding mifepristone, I have a simple message for you: medication abortion remains legal and accessible in Connecticut. While this order from Washington is great news, my office and my fellow attorneys general are doing everything possible to support the Department of Justice’s separate efforts to appeal the Texas decision and ensure this very safe and effective drug remains accessible not only in Connecticut, but across every state in this country,” Attorney General William Tong said.
On Wednesday, in an appeal of a separate Texas lawsuit, a panel of judges in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals issued an order imposing restrictions on access to mifepristone.
Thursday’s order from Judge Thomas O. Rice clarifies that those restrictions do not apply to the 18 states that filed a lawsuit in the Eastern District of Washington, protecting mifepristone in those states – including Connecticut.
On April 7, Judge Thomas O. Rice issued an injunction barring the FDA from “altering the status quo and rights as it relates to the availability of Mifepristone” in the states involved in Washington’s lawsuit. The FDA filed a motion seeking clarification of Judge Rice’s decision in light of a potentially contradictory order from the Northern District of Texas. Judge Rice responded by clarifying that his order applies “irrespective of” the Northern District of Texas or the Fifth Circuit’s rulings in that separate litigation.
The FDA has announced that it will appeal the Fifth Circuit decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Fifth Circuit’s order imposing restrictions on mifepristone does not affect the parties to the Washington case.
Judge Rice provided clarity today, with his order saying in part: “Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 65(a), irrespective of the Northern District of Texas Court ruling or the Fifth Circuit’s anticipated ruling, Defendants and their officers, agents, servants, employees, attorneys, and any person in active concert or participation, are PRELIMINARILY ENJOINED from: ‘altering the status quo and rights as it relates to the availability of Mifepristone under the current operative January 2023 Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy under 21 U.S.C. § 355-1 in Plaintiff States and the District of Columbia.’”
Attorneys General Bob Ferguson of Washington and Ellen Rosenblum of Oregon are co-leading the lawsuit filed in February in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington. In addition to Attorney General Tong, the attorneys general from Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Illinois, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Vermont, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C., partnered on the lawsuit.