OLYMPIA – As two federal courts considered opposing cases to either ban or protect access to the abortion medication mifepristone, Washington state moved swiftly to purchase a three-year supply. Inslee directed the state Department of Corrections, using its existing pharmacy license, to purchase the medication.
Sen. Karen Keiser and Rep. Jessica Bateman are sponsoring legislation that would permit the DOC to distribute the supply to pharmacists statewide.
Medical abortions account for nearly 60% of abortions in Washington state. Mifepristone is a FDA-approved abortion medication with a safe record of over 20 years of use. The state’s purchase will ensure access to the medication by patients receiving care in Washington state.
“This Texas lawsuit is a clear and present danger to patients and providers all across the country. Washington will not sit by idly and risk the devastating consequences of inaction,” Inslee said. “Washington is a pro-choice state and no Texas judge will order us otherwise.”
The purchase is only one element of the state’s strong pro-choice legislative agenda. HB 1155 would protect the medical data of abortion seekers. HB 1340 would protect abortion providers against retaliation by medical licensing boards. HB 1469 would shield providers giving, or patients receiving, reproductive health care or gender-affirming care. SB 5242 would eliminate out-of-pocket expenses for abortion seekers using private insurance. Additionally, Attorney General Bob Ferguson is helping lead a multi-state lawsuit to protect access to mifepristone nationwide.
“We cannot allow an extremist judge in Texas to deny Washingtonians access to this safe, effective medication,” said Keiser.
“Abortion is health care,” said Bateman. “These decisions should not be made by a judge in Texas, but by patients here in Washington.”
On Friday, Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas partially granted a motion essentially revoking the FDA’s approval of the drug. Also Friday, Judge Thomas Rice from the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington partially granted a motion in a competing case co-led by AG Bob Ferguson to affirm the FDA’s conclusion that mifepristone is safe and effective, and that its distribution should continue in the states participating in the suit.
The rulings are contradictory: the former invalidates the FDA’s approval of the drug, and the latter affirms the FDA’s approval of the drug.
Despite the Texas court’s order, mifepristone will remain available for Washington women thanks to the state’s initiative to purchase the multi-year supply.