Wednesday, January 25, 2023
A company that makes an abortion pill filed a lawsuit Wednesday morning challenging the constitutionality of a state ban on the medication, one in what is expected to be a wave of cases arguing that the federal Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the pill takes precedence over such restrictive state laws.
The case was filed in federal court in West Virginia by GenBioPro, one of two American manufacturers of mifepristone, the first pill used in the two-drug medication abortion regimen. A ruling in favor of the company could compel other states that have banned abortion to allow the pills to be prescribed, dispensed and sold, according to legal experts. If the courts reject the company’s arguments, some legal scholars say the decision could open the door for states to ban or restrict other approved drugs, such as Covid vaccines or morning-after pills.
The case is one of a number of lawsuits testing legal arguments in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s ruling last June overturning the federal right to abortion. Also on Wednesday, an obstetrician-gynecologist sued officials in North Carolina, which still allows abortion, challenging the state’s requirements for using mifepristone because they go beyond F.D.A. regulations on the drug. In November, abortion opponents filed a lawsuit challenging the F.D.A.’s approval of mifepristone nearly 23 years ago and asked that the courts order the agency to stop allowing the use of the drug and the second drug, misoprostol, for abortion.
Taken together, the cases underscore how pivotal medication abortion has become in legal and political battles. With pills now being used in more than half of abortions in America, and with recent F.D.A. decisions allowing patients to have pills prescribed by telemedicine and obtained by mail or from retail pharmacies, states that ban or restrict abortion are increasingly targeting the medication method.