Mid-Michigan advocate on abortion pill rulings

The future of a common abortion medication is hanging in the balance as the pill known as mifepristone is due to be pulled from shelves by Friday.
Published: Apr. 10, 2023 at 10:17 PM EDT
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MID-MICHIGAN (WNEM) - The future of a common abortion medication is hanging in the balance as the pill known as mifepristone is due to be pulled from shelves by Friday unless the courts issue a stay preventing a judge’s order from taking effect.

The order would suspend the FDA’s approval of the drug.

Abortion supporters in mid-Michigan spoke about the ruling and said other options are limited.

“It’s Black Maternal Health Week, and I’m really concerned that this will also impact our devastating Black maternal mortality rates as well as mortality rates among all pregnant people,” vice president of communications for Planned Parenthood of Michigan Ashlea Phenicie said.

After being available for more than two decades, the future of a common abortion medication hangs in the balance. The situation has left medical professionals once again in limbo.

“It’s really confusing for doctors right now to try to interpret this and really we’re waiting for additional guidance from our lawyers and hopefully to see some appeals occur,” Phenicie said.

This comes in the wake of an order on Friday, April 7 from a U.S. District Judge in Texas, halting the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the drug mifepristone. Meanwhile, a federal judge in Washington state barred the FDA from doing anything to reduce the availability of the medication in that state, 16 others, and in the District of Columbia.

“With these two conflicting decisions, what we’re seeing is what happens when politics interfere in medical care,” Phenicie said.

For women in Michigan, there is an alternative available if the Texas ruling stands, but it has some disadvantages.

“Misoprostol will remain available, so we are prepared to shift to that regimen. It is slightly less effective, so for patients, that could mean higher likelihood that they need additional care and that could also push them later into pregnancy requiring more advanced care,” Phenicie said.

Although there is an alternative medication available, women’s health advocates said this ruling sets a dangerous precedent for the future.

“This could mean that any kind of medication could be overruled by a politically motivated judge,” Phenicie said.

Advocates said this ruling will mostly affect the Black and brown communities, low-income families, and those who do not have immediate access to healthcare, like individuals living in remote rural areas and underserved communities.

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