Newsom, LA officials seek to protect medical abortion after TX court bans mifepristone

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Monday, April 10, 2023
CA stockpiling alternate abortion drug amid threat of ban
Amid a national legal battle, California officials are taking steps to protect women's ability to obtain abortion through medication.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Amid a national legal battle, California officials are taking steps to protect women's ability to obtain abortion through medication.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Monday the state is stockpiling supplies of an alternate abortion pill, while officials in Los Angeles County say they will not enforce a ban on the currently legal medication.

The steps were announced as two dueling judges from Texas and Washington could determine if the common abortion pill mifepristone will continue to be available nationwide.

Mifepristone has been available for more than two decades and is used in more than half the abortions in the United States.

Last week a judge in Texas ruled to suspend the FDA's approval of the drug. The judge's ruling could halt the prescribing and distribution of mifepristone nationwide, including in states like California where abortion is protected.

But a judge in Washington state has issued an injunction to protect access to the pill.

MORE: Judge reverses FDA approval of abortion drug after 23 years

U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk ruled to suspend the FDA's approval of mifepristone.

The Texas decision is on hold while the U.S. Justice Department files an emergency appeal.

In the meantime, local leaders in Los Angeles and at the state level say they will fight to ensure women have access to abortion drugs.

Newsom said the state has secured an emergency stockpile of 2 million pills of misoprostol, another abortion drug, after the Texas decision on mifepristone.

Clinics and doctors generally prescribe a combination of both mifepristone and misoprostol for medical abortions.

Using misoprostol alone has a slightly lower rate of effectiveness in ending pregnancies, but is used for that purpose in many countries where mifepristone is illegal or unavailable.

"In response to this extremist ban on a medication abortion drug, our state has secured a stockpile of an alternative medication abortion drug to ensure that Californians continue to have access to safe reproductive health treatments," Newsom said. "We will not cave to extremists who are trying to outlaw these critical abortion services. Medication abortion remains legal in California."

Local leaders in Los Angeles are also taking steps to protect access to medical abortion.

"I stand here in support of Planned Parenthood and support of the effort," Mayor Karen Bass said Monday.

"We have to make sure that the attacks on democracy at every level cease. Elections matter. There will be an election next year and hopefully we will be able to reverse the damage that is being done."

Los Angeles County Supervisor Lindsey Horvath said local officials are not enforcing restrictions on the drug.

"The sheriff will not be pursuing charges," Horvath said. "There will not be arrests for people who seek access to use the abortion pill. There will not be prosecution by the district attorney. Our department of public health and health services are both making sure this drug continues to be available, that we are ensuring that it be continued access here in Los Angeles County."

Said Supervisor Holly Mitchell: "This Texas decision is a disgrace and has no immediate impact on abortion or reproductive care services here in Los Angeles County."