WASHINGTON – In the wake of a federal district court ruling revoking FDA approval for a major abortion drug, Maryland Gov. Wes Moore is working with the state Department of Health to explore stockpiling the drug.
Last Friday, Matthew Kacsmaryk, a conservative federal judge in Texas, ruled that the FDA should withdraw approval for mifepristone. The abortion pill has been on the market for 23 years and the ruling, which takes effect on Friday, represents an unprecedented challenge to the FDA’s authority.
Just before departing for Northern Ireland on Tuesday, President Joe Biden called the ruling “completely out of bounds.”
Whether the ruling will have any effect remains to be seen.
Minutes after the ruling was handed down in Texas, a federal judge in Washington state issued a contradictory ruling which compels the FDA to ensure that mifepristone remains available. The decision in Texas will likely be appealed to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals and possibly the United States Supreme Court.
The uncertainty over the status of the drug has led some Democratic governors to announce that they are building stockpiles of the drug in the event it should become unavailable federally. Governors in California, Massachusetts, Maine and Washington state have announced they will be stockpiling mifepristone in the wake of the Texas ruling.
While Gov. Moore’s office did not provide specifics on a potential stockpile, it did say the governor is exploring the issue with the Maryland Department of Health.
“As other states work to tear down reproductive protections and attack access to care and medication, the Moore-Miller administration is exploring options to implement more safeguards for all Marylanders — including working with the Department of Health to explore stockpiling mifepristone,” a spokesperson for Moore told Capital News Service.
Planned Parenthood of Maryland told CNS that it will continue to offer mifepristone as long as the Washington court ruling stands, and that it will continue to provide other forms of medical abortion if mifepristone is removed from the market.
“The banning of mifepristone is not only unprecedented — never before have we seen a medication with such long-standing FDA approval ripped from the U.S. market overnight — but is also based on exaggerated claims,” Planned Parenthood of Maryland CEO Karen Nelson said in a statement. “Mifepristone is safe, effective, and was used by more than 4 million people since its approval two decades ago. The truth of the matter is that this case is not motivated by concern for patient health as the plaintiff claimed. Instead it is a boldfaced attack on sexual and reproductive health care that will have dire consequences.”
The Maryland General Assembly has recently passed a constitutional amendment that would enshrine abortion rights in the state constitution. The bill is now headed to the governor’s office for Moore’s signature and then will be on the ballot for approval by Maryland voters in the 2024 general election.
Moore’s office told CNS: “The governor will continue to do everything in his power to ensure that Maryland remains a safe haven for abortion and reproductive health care access, including signing into law a comprehensive and historic reproductive rights legislative package that will provide concrete protections for Marylanders’ reproductive freedoms; protect private medical information; expand access to reproductive health care services; and enable a ballot measure to enshrine reproductive rights in the Maryland constitution.”