UPDATE: This post has been updated with a response from CT Attorney General William Tong.
On Friday a federal court in Texas ruled that the 23-year-old Food & Drug Administration’s approval of the abortion pill mifepristone should be overturned.
But a federal court in Washington has ruled the FDA must continue to make the drug available in some states.
Mifepristone is one of two pills used in medication abortions and is used in the vast majority of such abortions in the United State. The drug was approved in 2000 and has proven a safe and effective way to end pregnancy when used with another medication, misoprostol.
The conflicting federal rulings leave abortion drug access in limbo.
On Friday evening, Governor Ned Lamont released a statement regarding a federal court ruling issued that seeks to restrict nationwide access to mifepristone.
“This ruling is yet another devastating attack on reproductive rights,” Lamont said. “Pills such as mifepristone allow you to decide when you want to start a family, not the government.”
This case is not about safety. This is about controlling medical decisions that should be between patients and their doctors,” he added.
“We will not let this decision derail our fight to defend and strengthen abortion rights. In Connecticut, we remain committed to expanding access to reproductive healthcare, including allowing pharmacists to prescribe birth control and protecting both patients and providers who seek and offer that care.”
Attorney General William Tong also shared a statement following the dual decisions affecting access to the medication abortion drug mifepristone issued in Texas and Washington:
The decision handed down by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas suspends the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) long-standing approval of mifepristone, while the ruling issued by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington bars the FDA from reducing access to the medication in the 17 plaintiff states and District of Columbia. Connecticut joined in the lawsuit against the FDA in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington to remove unnecessary and burdensome restrictions (such as requiring prescribers and pharmacies to complete a special certification process) on mifepristone access.
“Abortion — including medication abortion— is safe and legal in Connecticut tonight and I’m fighting with everything I’ve got to keep it that way, and to keep out of state extremists out of our private healthcare decisions, Attorney General Tong said. “The Texas decision has zero basis in science, fact, or the law. It substitutes one reactionary judge’s political determination for more than 20 years of scientific evidence and threatens access to medication abortion nationwide.”
“This is precisely the dangerous and radical decision we feared, and why I joined with my fellow Attorneys General to launch our own defense of medication abortion in federal court in Washington state,” Tong continued. “Because we must fight fire with fire. And a decision in that case— also handed down tonight— preserves access to medication abortion in plaintiff states, including Connecticut. I will never back down, and we are going to keep taking this fight to those who attack women and patients and their fundamental rights.”
Medication abortion is safe and common in Connecticut. In 2021, there were 9,562 abortions performed in Connecticut. Of those, nearly 64 percent were medication abortion using mifepristone.
While doctors have long agreed that a two-medicine regimen—mifepristone followed by misoprostol—is the safest and most effective form of medication abortion, misoprostol alone is also a safe and effective form of medication abortion. Today’s decision does not impact the ability of doctors to prescribe misoprostol for medication abortion.
Since 2000 when the FDA approved mifepristone as a single-dose oral medication used for early-term abortions, it has safely been used by approximately five million persons to terminate a pregnancy and manage miscarriages, and is used in more than half of all abortions today. Years of research have continued to prove mifepristone’s safety and efficacy.
Since last year’s Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade, Attorney General Tong has led numerous efforts to protect abortion rights, including joining a multistate coalition in filing an amicus brief in the Texas case to defend safe access to medication abortion. Attorney General Tong also created the position of Special Counsel for Reproductive Rights within the Office of the Attorney General to protect abortion access and reproductive care both in Connecticut and anywhere those rights are challenged across the country.
The State of Connecticut also joined with New York last year to launch a hotline for free legal guidance on reproductive health care for individuals and providers. To get legal assistance, call the abortion rights legal hotline at (212) 899-5567 or visit Portal.CT.Gov/ReproductiveRights to know your abortion rights in Connecticut.