Attorney General James Takes Action to Protect Medication Abortion Access

AG James Leads Coalition of 24 Attorneys General Urging U.S. Supreme Court to Reverse Lower Court’s Ruling Reinstating Unnecessary Restrictions on Access to Mifepristone

NEW YORK – New York Attorney General Letitia James today led a multistate coalition of 24 attorneys general to protect access to medication abortion nationwide. The coalition filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court supporting the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) and Danco Laboratories LLC’s efforts to reverse a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit that reinstated certain restrictions on the medication known as mifepristone, after the FDA had determined those restrictions were medically unnecessary. Because mifepristone is the only medication approved by the FDA for abortion care, Attorney General James and the coalition argue that the Fifth Circuit’s ruling reinstating medically unnecessary restrictions on mifepristone has dangerous consequences for reproductive health care outcomes, particularly for low-income and underserved communities.  

“Every American deserves access to safe and thoroughly tested medication abortion options,” said Attorney General James. “The Fifth Circuit’s decision to reinstate unwarranted restrictions on the drug mifepristone was misguided and cannot be allowed to stand. Millions of Americans, especially those in underserved, rural, and low-income communities, rely on access to medication abortion, and they are counting on the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse the lower court decision. I will always stand up to protect Americans’ rights, and I thank my fellow attorneys general for joining me in the effort to safeguard access to reproductive health care.” 

Attorney General James and the coalition of 24 attorneys general are urging the Supreme Court to reverse the Fifth Circuit’s decision to restrict how mifepristone can be prescribed and dispensed. The amicus brief highlights that the Fifth Circuit’s decision ignores decades of high-quality evidence and clinical research that shows mifepristone is safe and effective. The coalition also pointed out that the FDA’s decisions in 2016 to approve a modified label and reform the conditions for prescribing mifepristone were supported by robust safety data and decades of clinical experience.   

The coalition notes that if the Fifth Circuit’s decision is permitted to take effect, it could disrupt access to the most common method of abortion, harming countless Americans in need of medical care or pregnancy loss management, with widespread disruptions for the health care system. Among other things, the lower court decision could lead many individuals to undergo procedural abortion, drive up risks, costs, and delays, and deprive many Americans of access to reproductive health care altogether. The coalition further argues that the ruling would create widespread confusion among providers, distributors, and pharmacies, and radically destabilize the regulatory process for drug approvals, stifling scientific innovation and imperiling the development and availability of thousands of drugs nationwide. 

Joining Attorney General James in submitting today’s amicus brief are the attorneys general of Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawai‘i, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia. 

Attorney General James has been a leader in the fight to protect abortion access in New York and across the country. Attorney General James has led the multistate coalition at every step in this case since it was first filed, filing a series of briefs at the district court and appellate levels to protect access to medication abortion nationwide. Earlier this month, Attorney General James joined a coalition of attorneys general to oppose an Idaho law that threatens to criminalize any action taken by an adult to help a minor from Idaho access abortion care in another state without parental consent. In December 2023, Attorney General James obtained a court order stopping a militant anti-abortion group from blocking access to reproductive health care clinics in 13 counties across New York state. In September 2023, Attorney General James took action to protect abortion access at the Jefferson County Correctional Facility. In March 2023, Attorney General James, together with Governor Hochul, sent a letter to the CEOs of Walgreens (owner of Duane Reade), Rite Aid, and CVS to demand answers about the companies’ plans to make the abortion medication mifepristone available in New York. Attorney General James has also fought to preserve access to abortion care in medical emergencies, leading a series of briefs in support of the United States Department of Health and Human Services interpretation of the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA). 

This matter is being handled by Deputy Solicitor General Ester Murdukhayeva and Solicitor General Barbara D. Underwood of the Division of Appeals and Opinions, and Special Counsel for Reproductive Justice Galen Leigh Sherwin of the Executive Division, which is overseen by First Deputy Attorney General Jennifer Levy.