WASHINGTON — Attorney General Merrick Garland said the Biden administration will ask the U.S. Supreme Court to protect the availability of a w…
Gov. Kathleen Hochul ordered state health officials Tuesday to stockpile 150,000 doses of an abortion medication known as misoprostol, aiming to shield New York from a controversial court ruling that could result in a nationwide ban on another widely used abortion pill.
The 150,000 misoprostol doses, which will be purchased by the state Department of Health, amount to a five-year supply for New York, based on current anticipated needs, Hochul said.
“It’s going to ensure that New Yorkers will continue to have access to medication abortion no matter what,” Hochul told reporters in a virtual press conference hosted by Planned Parenthood of Greater New York, one of the region’s largest reproductive health providers.
Hochul’s announcement came on the heels of a federal judge in Texas issuing a ruling Friday that suspended the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s longstanding authorization of mifepristone, one of the country’s most popular abortion pills.
The ruling from U.S. District Court Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, would force mifepristone off the market if it takes effect as expected at midnight Friday.
President Biden’s administration has already filed an emergency appeal of Kacsmaryk’s decision, and signaled Monday it may ask the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene.
In the interim, Hochul said it’s critical New York prepares for the worst.
“Last year, the attacks were on abortion procedures,” the governor said, referring to the Supreme Court’s earth-shattering decision to overturn the Roe v. Wade precedent that established the constitutional right to abortion. “This year: Medication abortion. What’s next? Contraception? Birth control? Well, I’m here to say: Not in New York, not now, not ever.”
Health experts say the most effective and safe way of undergoing a medical abortion is first taking mifepristone and then following that up with a dose of misoprostol. That type of two-step medical abortion can generally be used in the first 10 weeks of gestation, according to FDA guidelines.
If mifepristone is banned, Gabriela Aguilar, medical director of Planned Parenthood of Greater New York, explained that an abortion can still be achieved just using misoprostol.
“[But] mifepristone not only increases the effectiveness of the medication abortion regimen, it also shortens the time interval and thus improves the patient’s experience,” Aguilar said in Tuesday’s press conference. “So forcing health care providers to transition to another regimen that is less patient-centered is dehumanizing to the patient.”
Also at the press conference were Mayor Adams and State Attorney General Letitia James, both of whom praised the governor for ordering a misoprostol stockpile.
Adams, who called Kacsmaryk’s ruling an “assault on women’s rights and a setback for this entire country,” put a potential mifepristone ban in the context of the city’s public hospital system.
Without mifepristone, Adams said the city’s public hospitals would have to carry out more traditional abortions, which are more resource intensive.
“This will put a strain on public hospitals’ already limited resources,” he said. “It will affect public hospitals’ abilities to provide care to patients seeking abortion and could impact the ability to provide care across the board.”
No matter what happens with the mifepristone case, James vowed that abortion “will continue to be legal in New York.”
“In New York, we will not be bullied by right-wing ideologues,” she said. “In New York, we recognize that abortion care is health care.”
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