Massachusetts Medical Society: Massachusetts Medical Society condemns Texas decision on mifepristone

Massachusetts Medical Society condemns Texas decision on mifepristone

Today, a court in Texas delivered a devastating decision for individuals who need access to medication abortion care in the Commonwealth and across the United States. A federal district court in Texas issued a preliminary ruling invalidating the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s approval of mifepristone, which is part of the two-drug regimen for medication abortion. The decision, which is slated to go into effect in seven days, conflicts directly with a concurrently issued ruling out of a federal district court in Washington state ordering the FDA to make no changes to the availability of mifepristone.

The legal uncertainty created by these conflicting rulings will create significant confusion for patients and physicians and may cut off access to a critical method of abortion care for many while the legal matter likely heads to the Supreme Court for resolution.

The Massachusetts Medical Society believes that health care is a basic human right and strives for equity in access to and quality of care. Access to evidenced-based abortion care is health care, and the implications of this decision out of Texas, if upheld, will further exacerbate existing inequities in health care access and outcomes in the United States.

Medication abortion has been available in the United States since 2000, when the FDA approved the use of mifepristone for early abortion. Decades of studies have shown that medication abortion is safe and effective. Since the overturning of Roe v. Wade, the FDA, under the Biden Administration has taken steps to remove unnecessary barriers to access medication abortion for patients by relaxing existing REMS protocols and allowing mifepristone to be mailed or dispensed by retail pharmacies. The mailing of medication abortion pills was increasingly relied on by individuals who live in places where access to abortion is restricted or prohibited by state law.

Prohibiting access to medication abortion undermines patient choice and will impact millions of people of reproductive age, as medication abortion accounts for more than half of all abortions in the United States. The ban of mifepristone will disproportionately impact individuals who live in rural communities that lack abortion clinics, like southeastern and western Massachusetts. The further burden this decision places upon medically underserved populations and patients that already face significant barriers to accessible abortion care will worsen existing inequities in access to care and disparities in maternal health outcomes.

The Medical Society applauds Governor Healey’s leadership in issuing recent guidance through the Board of Registration in Pharmacy to order pharmacies to maintain continuous supplies and dispense reproductive health medications, including mifepristone. The effect of this guidance is now unclear given today’s rulings, which inject tremendous uncertainty for patients and physicians, and we are committed to working with the state to seek clarity and ultimately access to care for our patients. The Massachusetts Medical Society stands with all individuals who need access to abortion and those physicians and clinicians who provide this necessary health care.

-Theodore A. Calianos, II, MD, FACS, President, Massachusetts Medical Society

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