Wednesday, June 8, 2022
In December of 2021, the FDA lifted some of its burdensome restrictions on the abortion pill mifepristone, including the requirement that healthcare providers must meet in-person with patients to dispense the medication. Nineteen states, however, continue to impose in-person dispensing requirements and many impose other restrictions that go beyond FDA requirements, like only allowing physicians to dispense the medication and requiring multiple in-person visits to obtain the medication. In October, Texas banned clinicians from prescribing abortion pills after seven weeks of pregnancy—three weeks before the current FDA time limit of 10 weeks. Legal scholars and advocates are questioning the constitutionality of these additional restrictions on abortion pills.
University of Pittsburgh law professor Greer Donley argues that state bans of an FDA-approved abortion medication may violate the supremacy clause of the U.S. Constitution. The supremacy clause establishes that federal laws take precedence over state laws that are in conflict, and prohibits states from interfering with matters that are exclusively entrusted to the federal government—such as the regulation of medications.***
A similar lawsuit has already been filed by GenBioPro, which produces a generic form of the abortion pill mifepristone. The company has sued the state of Mississippi in federal court, challenging state restrictions that go beyond the FDA rule, including a law allowing only physicians to dispense the drug and requiring in-person dispensing. That suit is currently pending.
“It gets a little bit more complicated when we start thinking about the post-Roe world and abortion bans. I think if a state were to pass a law that specifically banned mifepristone or misoprostol that would be preempted,” said Greer. “But I think it’s a really hard question about whether or not a state’s general abortion ban is preempted