Nearly 600 Democratic state legislators have signed on to a letter protesting a federal judge’s ruling revoking FDA approval of mifepristone, saying the “health and wellbeing of our constituents that we were put into office to protect is at grave risk.”
The 588 legislators who signed come from every state except North Dakota, a sign of how the party views promoting access to mifepristone, one of the two drugs involved in medication abortion, and defending the Food and Drug Administration from political interference as a winning issue even in conservative areas.
“Keeping abortion legal and accessible is backed by the will of the people, and the movement will not stop because of a decision in a factually and procedurally flawed legal case brought to court by anti-abortion extremists,” said Jennifer Driver, the director of reproductive rights at the State Innovation Exchange, the liberal network of state legislators that organized the letter. “With this letter, state legislators from across the nation are making clear that all people deserve access to a full range of reproductive health options and that we need to keep mifepristone on shelves — not remove it.”
The pharmaceutical industry, major medical groups and Democrats have all criticized the ruling from Matt Kacsmaryk, a U.S. district judge in Texas who was appointed by President Donald Trump. They argue the ruling substitutes Kacsmaryk’s political judgment for the scientific judgment of FDA experts, and threatens the broader prescription drug industry.
The lawmakers’ letter echoes those arguments.
“For the past two decades, researchers have demonstrated the safety and efficacy of mifepristone through rigorous, peer reviewed research studies,” the letter reads. “As the most commonly used form of medication abortion, mifepristone has a higher safety record than Tylenol. As state lawmakers, we rely on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to approve medications such as mifepristone for our constituents through a highly scientific — not political — process. We are concerned that the preliminary injunction issued by Judge Kascmaryk in Texas will set a dangerous precedent for how we review and approve medications as a nation moving forward.”
The fight also comes as state lawmakers across the country are battling over abortion rights in the new landscape created by the Supreme Court’s decision last year striking down Roe v. Wade’s guarantee of abortion rights. In North Carolina, state Rep. Julie von Haefen (D) introduced legislation to expand access to medication abortion ― even as a new GOP supermajority means more abortion restrictions could be coming.
“We are one of the only states left in the South where abortion is legal up to 20 weeks,” said von Haefen, one of the letter’s signatories. “This decision could be devastating for us, in a state where so many people are coming for care.”
In Michigan, meanwhile, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) signed a repeal of a century-old abortion ban into law earlier this month. Another signatory of the letter, state Sen. Erika Geiss, said Democrats’ success in the state in the 2022 midterm elections showed abortion rights are a winning issue for the party.
“People are very galvanized on this issue,” Geiss said. “They didn’t want to see health care providers criminalized for doing their jobs.”
Mifepristone is used in more than half of the abortions in the United States, according to FDA data, and public surveys show wide support for keeping it legal. A Pew Research Center poll found 53% of Americans thought abortion medication should be legal in their state, while just 22% said it should be illegal. Conservative Republicans were the only subgroup of the population that clearly thought the drug should be illegal.
Read the letter below: