Apr 11, 2023 - News

Abortion pill remains legal in Arizona despite Texas court ruling

A truck that says, "Pharmacists know mifepristone saves lives,"

Mifepristone advocate UltraViolet last month at the American Pharmacists Association Annual Conference at the Phoenix Convention Center. Photo: Chris Coduto/Getty Images for UltraViolet

Arizonans can still access the abortion drug mifepristone, despite a Texas court ruling late last week attempting to ban the pill nationwide, Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes said Monday.

Catch up quick: Texas District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk issued a decision pausing the FDA's 2000 approval of mifepristone, Axios' Adriel Bettelheim and Oriana González report. It's set to take effect Friday.

  • But Washington District Judge Thomas Rice said in a simultaneous decision that mifepristone authorization cannot be taken away because it would alter the "status quo."
  • The Washington state decision, unlike Texas', takes effect immediately, said Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, co-lead of a group of Democratic attorneys general — including Mayes— who brought the case.

Why it matters: More than half of abortions in the U.S. are done by pill instead of surgery, according to a 2022 report by the Guttmacher Institute.

State of play: Abortion is legal in Arizona through 15 weeks of pregnancy under a law passed last year that shortened the previous 24-week limit.

Zoom in: Planned Parenthood Arizona called the Texas ruling "infuriating and unprecedented," but said it does not yet prevent the organization from providing medication abortions.

What they're saying: DeShawn Taylor, president and CEO of Desert Star Institute for Family Planning, told Axios Phoenix outlawing mifepristone would "decimate abortion access," as medication abortions are most accessible.

  • Abortion clinics nationwide, including hers, are severely understaffed because of medical burnout from the COVID-19 pandemic and job security concerns following the Supreme Court's reversal of Roe v. Wade. This means there are fewer surgical abortion appointments available, Taylor said.

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