A federal judge in Texas ordered a hold Friday on the Food and Drug Administration’s decades-old approval of mifepristone, throwing into question access to the nation’s most common method of abortion.
Massachusetts public officials, and abortion-rights organizations and other New England leaders responded swiftly to denounce the ruling in statements issued Friday night.
Governor Maura Healey called the order “yet another attempt by extremists to ban abortion nationwide.”
“Mifepristone has been used safely for more than 20 years and is the gold standard,” Healey said in a Friday statement. “We stand for civil rights and freedom, and we will always protect access to reproductive health care.”
Healey has scheduled a press conference with advocates and officials on Monday at 1 p.m. on the steps of the Massachusetts State House, the statement said, to outline her administration’s plan.
“Mifepristone will stay available in Massachusetts,” Healey said in a tweet. “You have my word.”
US Senator Elizabeth Warren criticized the decision in a series of tweets on Friday, and urged the Biden administration to appeal the case. In another Friday statement, Warren said it was a “lawless ruling by an extremist Republican judge.”
“One Trump-appointed judge in Texas thinks he knows better than decades of scientific evidence and ruled to block access to medication abortion nationwide,” Warren said in a tweet. “Because of today’s lawless ruling, women could lose access to a safe and legal medication they’ve relied on for decades.
US Senator Ed Markey said this is part of a “radical right-wing assault on reproductive freedom.”
“Mifepristone is safe, scientifically sound, and still legal,” Markey said in a tweet. “Republicans will stop at nothing to ban abortion nationwide, but we won’t back down.”
Mifepristone is safe, scientifically sound, and still legal. Republicans will stop at nothing to ban abortion nationwide, but we won’t back down. We will fight this relentless, radical right-wing assault on reproductive freedom and we will win.— Ed Markey (@SenMarkey) April 7, 2023
Attorney General Andrea Campbell tweeted “Medication abortion is safer than Tylenol.”
“This is a politically motivated ruling designed to make it more difficult for patients to access medication abortion. But this right wing judge won’t succeed,” she said.
Medication abortion is safer than Tylenol.— Andrea J. Campbell (@AndreaForAG) April 8, 2023
This is a politically motivated ruling designed to make it more difficult for patients to access medication abortion. But this right wing judge won’t succeed.
Medication abortion remains available in MA & we’ll continue to fight back. https://t.co/6z4jh7kYDS
Ellen Frank, the interim president and CEO of Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts, said the decision will not deter the organization from their work to expand access to abortion and reproductive health care in Massachusetts.
The organization “is still providing medication abortion care as usual in our health centers and via telehealth and is fully prepared to continue offering care with misoprostol, the other medication that safely and effectively ends a pregnancy, if necessary,” Frank said in a statement.
“(The decision) makes our local efforts to invest in abortion providers and pass measures that will remove remaining barriers to care even more urgent.”
Carol Rose, executive director of the ACLU of Massachusetts, said the decision, an “unprecedented attempt” made by the Texas judge, is a grave threat to the health of people seeking reproductive care across the country.
“Everyone should have the option to decide what type of care is right for them,” Rose said. “The ACLU won’t back down until every person has the freedom and ability to make these most personal and life-changing decisions for themselves and their families.”
Reproductive Equity Now, a Boston-based nonprofit organization that advocates for abortion access, said in a statement that medication abortion accounts for nearly 50 percent of abortions in Massachusetts and more than 50 percent of abortions nationwide, and has a 99 percent safety rate.
The organization’s president, Rebecca Hart Holder, said the Texas judge’s decision has “no basis in science, medicine, or justice.”
“This overstep of judicial authority points clearly to the unraveling of American democracy and the integrity of our judicial system,” Holder said in the statement. “The withdrawal of FDA approval for mifepristone will have wide-reaching impacts on health care beyond abortion care, and set a horrifying precedent for the approval of essential, life-saving medications in our country.”
Representative Ayanna Pressley also called on the federal government Friday night to appeal the decision.
“Tonight’s ruling is the latest in a series of coordinated, white supremacist attacks on abortion care and our bodily autonomy,” Pressley. a Democrat from Boston, said in a tweet. “But this fight isn’t over.”
Let’s be clear: medication abortion is safe, effective & still legal.— Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (@RepPressley) April 8, 2023
Tonight’s ruling is the latest in a series of coordinated, white supremacist attacks on abortion care and our bodily autonomy.
But this fight isn't over. The federal government should immediately appeal. https://t.co/bq77LAeamQ
Representative Lori Trahan said without immediate action, the decision made by “an openly anti-choice judge” will hurt millions of women across the nation.
“Anti-abortion extremists never planned to stop at Roe,” the Lowell Democrat said in a tweet. “We won’t let them win.”
Without immediate action, this decision by an openly anti-choice judge will hurt millions of women nationwide.— Lori Trahan (@RepLoriTrahan) April 8, 2023
Anti-abortion extremists never planned to stop at Roe. They won’t stop here either. They want to ban abortion nationwide — no exceptions.
We won’t let them win. https://t.co/QjoroBFINc
Elsewhere in New England, Democratic governors of Main, Rhode Island and Connecticut also criticized the decision on Twitter.
“This reckless decision ignores basic science and facts and is yet another sad assault on the rights of women,” said Maine Governor Janet Mills in a tweet. “Mifepristone has been safely used since its approval more than two decades ago and is especially vital to ensuring that women in rural areas have access to abortion care.”
My statement in response to the ruling tonight in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas that would block FDA approval of mifepristone, a safe and effective drug used in medication abortion since its approval more than 20 years ago: pic.twitter.com/pJE5A59Q3k— Governor Janet Mills (@GovJanetMills) April 8, 2023
“This is another devastating attack on reproductive rights,” said R.I. Governor Dan McKee in a tweet. “Make no mistake: we are committed to ensuring reproductive freedom is protected in Rhode Island.”
“Pills such as mifepristone allow you to decide when you want to start a family, not the government,” said Conn. Governor Ned Lamont in a tweet. “This case is not about safety. This is about controlling medical decisions that should be between patients & doctors.”
We will not let this decision derail our fight to defend & strengthen abortion rights. In CT, we remain committed to expanding access to reproductive healthcare, including allowing pharmacists to prescribe birth control & protecting patients & providers who seek & offer that care— Governor Ned Lamont (@GovNedLamont) April 8, 2023
This story is developing and will be updated.