Apr 10, 2023 - Politics

Massachusetts stockpiles mifepristone, adds abortion medication to shield law

Gov. Maura Healey, right, announces she signed an executive order in response to recent court rulings about medication abortion access. Photo: Steph Solis/Axios

Massachusetts is expanding abortion protections to include abortion medication amid a nationwide legal fight calling the treatment’s authorization into question.

Driving the news: Gov. Maura Healey signed an executive order Monday clarifying that a 2022 law shielding abortion providers from out-of-state prosecution also includes medical abortions and mifepristone.

  • She also announced that UMass Amherst last week ordered 15,000 doses of mifepristone to ensure enough coverage for more than a year.

Catch up fast: Healey’s actions come after a Texas federal judge's ruling Friday paused the FDA's approval of mifepristone.

  • Healey said UMass’ medication order was placed before the ruling last week.

Zoom in: Advocates and health care leaders expressed concern that the Texas decision could threaten access to the drug in Massachusetts. Healey said in a statement Monday she “will always protect access to reproductive health care, including medication abortion.”

What they’re saying: “Our response in Massachusetts is going to be to double down for freedom,” Healey told a crowd outside the State House.

State of play: On the same day of the Texas ruling, a federal judge in Washington state said in separate ruling the medication’s authorization cannot be rescinded because it would alter the “status quo.”

  • The Texas decision was set to take effect this Friday, but the Washington decision takes effect immediately.

The big picture: Last week's dueling court rulings on medication abortion means the question could head to the Supreme Court, which overturned Roe v. Wade last year.

  • While the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade left the matter up to the states, the legal fight over mifepristone hinges upon the Food and Drug Administration’s authority to greenlight the drug.
  • That decision could ultimately affect whether abortion-friendly states like Massachusetts could make the medication available and protect providers who administer it.

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