A pair of lawsuits have challenged West Virginia and North Carolina’s laws restricting access to abortion pills.
The two separate lawsuits challenged the two states’ restrictions and have opened up what is expected to be a protracted legal battle over access to the medications. It marks the first lawsuits of their kind since the Supreme Court overturned the federal constitutional right to an abortion.
The lawsuits argue that limits on the drugs in North Carolina and West Virginia are in contradiction with the federal authority of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The FDA has approved the abortion pill as a safe and effective method for ending a pregnancy.
Both lawsuits fuel a growing legal battle over medication abortion in the wake of the elimination of the longstanding right to abortion established 50 years ago in Roe v. Wade. The Supreme court’s decision has effectively left states to regulate the procedure.
While the lawsuits target specific state laws, they represent key legal tests that could determine access to abortion for millions of women.
The lawsuits turns on a longstanding legal principle that federal law, including FDA decisions, pre-empt state laws. Few states have ever tried to fully ban an FDA-approved drug because of past rulings in the agency’s favor.
In a complaint filed in federal court in Huntington, West Virginia, GenBioPro Inc said the state cannot override the FDA approval from 2000 of mifepristone by banning the drug, the first in a two-drug regimen for medication abortions.
A doctor, Amy Bryant, filed a separate lawsuit in the federal court in Durham, North Carolina, challenging state-imposed restrictions on obtaining mifepristone, which she said impeded her ability to treat patients.
In a separate case, anti-abortion activists are urging a Texas federal judge to undo FDA approval of mifepristone altogether, and effectively pull the drug off the market.
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