Apr 12, 2023 - News

How the abortion pill rulings play out in Arkansas

Illustration of a spotlight shining on a pill

Illustration: Natalie Peeples/Axios

The Supreme Court is likely to decide soon whether abortion pills can remain legal in the United States.

Catch up quick: Two judges issued contradictory rulings last Friday regarding mifepristone, one of the two drugs commonly used together in medication-induced abortions, Axios' Sam Baker writes.

  • Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk ruled the FDA must reverse its approval of the drug. Then, a federal court in Washington state handed down an order prohibiting the FDA from making any changes to mifepristone’s availability.
  • The Department of Justice on Monday appealed Kacsmaryk's decision.

What they're saying: "While we no longer provide abortion care in Arkansas in the wake of the overturning of Roe, Arkansans have had to travel many hours to one of our health centers in Kansas to be treated — increasing the hurdles to accessing care that should be available in their communities," Planned Parenthood Great Plains spokesperson Anamarie Rebori Simmons told Axios in an email.

  • "Should mifepristone no longer be available, Planned Parenthood Great Plains will move to a misoprostol-only protocol at its Kansas health centers.
  • "We know it's still very effective and safe, and our providers are trained to pivot and help our patients."

What it means: If Kacsmaryk's ruling stands, and abortion pills no longer have FDA approval, physicians and pharmacists would have to stop providing them — even in states that have passed laws protecting abortion rights. Pharmacists can only dispense FDA-approved drugs.

  • This could pose a sweeping challenge to broader regulation of prescription drugs in the U.S.

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