Apr 11, 2023 - News

What the federal abortion pill ruling means for Minnesota

Photo: Erin Hooley/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Access to medication abortion will continue in Minnesota even if a federal judge's ruling against a widely used pill, mifepristone, stands, local reproductive health care providers and advocates say.

Driving the news: Texas district Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk's decision pausing the FDA's 2000 approval of the pill, one of the two drugs commonly used in medication-induced abortions, is set to take effect on Friday.

The big picture: The pill is the predominant form of abortion in Minnesota, which has seen an increase in patients from states where the procedure is restricted or banned in the wake of last year's U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade.

  • Close to 60% of the abortions in the state in 2021 used mifepristone, per state data.

What they're saying: Planned Parenthood North Central States, which performs the vast majority of procedures in Minnesota, condemned the ruling but said it is prepared to offer an alternative medication regimen if needed.

  • A spokeswoman for the Planned Parenthood chapter told Axios the other pill, misoprostol, is widely available and that the organization does "not anticipate any disruption to patient care" at its clinic.

Yes, but: Advocates and legislators who support abortion rights argued Monday that outlawing mifepristone, which is typically used in conjunction with misoprostol, could still have an adverse impact on women seeking the procedure.

  • "Misoprostol alone is a safe and effective alternative protocol for medication abortion, but it is not the standard of care for a reason," Megan Peterson, executive director of the advocacy group Gender Justice, told reporters. "It can be both more painful for the patient ... and it also can take far more time."

The other side: Cathy Blaeser, co-executive director of the anti-abortion rights group Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, hailed the ruling as "great news for women and babies" and said the judge was "right to recognize" what she called flaws in the drug’s approval process.

The intrigue: The ultimate impact of the judge's decision is still unclear. Several lawmakers have urged the FDA to ignore the ruling, but a U.S. Health and Human Services spokesperson already shot down the idea.

What we're watching: The fate of the pill could soon rest with the U.S. Supreme Court.

More coverage: How abortion pills work and why they're in the spotlight


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