Lamont, Bysiewicz and Tong Hail Supreme Court Decision Preserving Full Access to Medication Abortion

On Thursday, Governor Ned Lamont and Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz are applauding the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in FDA v. Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine, in which the justices unanimously reversed a lower court ruling and thus maintained the ability of Americans to access the widely used abortion medication mifepristone.

Governor Lamont and a coalition of 22 other governors known as the Reproductive Freedom Alliance filed an amicus curiae brief with the court in this case, arguing that if the court allowed the lower court ruling to stand, it could undermine governors’ abilities to provide adequate healthcare services and would have far-reaching implications beyond reproductive healthcare.

“I applaud the Supreme Court today for recognizing that the attempts to ban mifepristone – a medication that has been proven safe and has been widely used for several decades – was nothing more than a politically motivated attempt to restrict the ability of Americans to make their own family planning decisions,” Governor Lamont said.

“This case was never about safety,” he added. “It was about controlling peoples’ medical decisions and their ability to decide when they should start a family. But we must recognize that this will not be the last attempt by politicians to interfere in reproductive healthcare. As long as I am in office, I will use every tool in my power to fight for the ability of patients and their doctors to make their own reproductive healthcare decisions.”

“Today the people of Connecticut can breathe a sigh of relief that the Supreme Court has unanimously decided to preserve access to mifepristone, a medication that been safely used by more than five million patients over the last 20 years,” Lt. Governor Bysiewicz said.

“In our state, nearly two thirds of the abortions performed in 2021 were medication abortions using mifepristone. And, beyond its use in medical abortions, it has been found to be effective and safe in managing a miscarriage, which if left untreated can cause severe infection, infertility, or even death.”

Bysiewicz said removing access to the medication or reinstating outdated and medically unnecessary restrictions on mifepristone would have been a devastating blow to accessing safe abortions and miscarriage management – especially for those in the most vulnerable populations – communities of color, indigenous communities, and rural areas.

“While today’s decision is good news, we must remain vigilant as the Supreme Court has left the door open for other plaintiffs, who may allege harm, to bring similar actions,” she added. “Further, the Supreme Court, federal courts, and state legislatures across the country continue to take actions to severely restrict women’s access to reproductive healthcare. In the face of these dangerous and all-out attacks on the right to access essential healthcare, Governor Lamont and I remain committed to protecting our patients and providers.”

In a separate release Attorney General Tong said the unanimous Court found that the plaintiffs, a group of doctors opposed to abortion, lacked “standing” to sue since they had not actually been injured by anything the FDA did. The decision does not address the merits of the case, leaving open the door to future challenges by differently situated plaintiffs. “[T]he plaintiffs want FDA to make mifepristone more difficult for other doctors to prescribe and for pregnant women to obtain. Under Article III of the Constitution, a plaintiff ’s desire to make a drug less available for others does not establish standing to sue,” the decision states.

Tong joined a multistate coalition of 24 attorneys general in filing an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court defending access to medication abortion in this case.

“Medication abortion is safe, legal and accessible in Connecticut. That was true before today, and following this decision, it will stay that way. But let’s not think for one second that this threat is going away. Anti-choice radicals are combing this decision as we speak and have already started the process of coming back with new plaintiffs. We will fight back at every single step along the way to protect the rights of patients and providers to live their lives and do their jobs free from extremist political micromanagement,” Tong said.

Since taking office, Attorney General Tong has fought to protect reproductive justice in every major case impacting abortion access, including filing briefs at multiple stages of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, which ultimately overturned Roe v. Wade.

Connecticut went on offense to protect access to mifepristone, filing a lawsuit along with 16 other plaintiff states and the District of Columbia in federal court in Washington State to protect access to medication abortion by challenging unnecessary burdensome restrictions on mifepristone. In a decision released immediately following the Northern District of Texas decision suspending mifepristone approval, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington barred the FDA from reducing access to mifepristone in Connecticut and the other plaintiff states. That case is ongoing.

Attorney General Tong issued a formal opinion last year ensuring there would be no ambiguity as to patients’ rights to access abortion, providers’ ability to prescribe mifepristone, and the state’s ability to cover mifepristone under its Medicaid program. That guidance was unchanged by Thursday’s opinion.

“Since 2000 when the FDA approved mifepristone as a single-dose oral medication used for early-term abortions, it has safely been used by about five million people to terminate pregnancy and manage miscarriages, and is used in more than half of all abortions today. In 2021, there were 9,562 abortions performed in Connecticut. Of those, nearly 64 percent were medication abortion using mifepristone. Years of research have continued to prove mifepristone’s safety and efficacy,” Tong wrote.