RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Friday, two federal judges in two different states issued conflicting rulings on the abortion pill, mifepristone.
One of those would block FDA approval, affecting the entire country. Another would preserve access for several states involved in a lawsuit.
So what does this mean for North Carolina?
Amber Gavin, Vice President of Advocacy and outreach at A Woman’s Choice, which operates a clinic in Raleigh that provides abortions, said lots of people are confused by the rulings.
“What happens when there are all of these decisions and news around it, it causes a little bit of confusion and chaos,” she noted.
She said more than half of abortions in the country are medication abortions. A drug called mifepristone is followed by another called misoprostol.
“Mifepristone blocks the pregnancy hormone,” Gavin explained, adding that it has been used in abortions for more than 20 years.
Friday, a Texas federal judge blocked FDA approval for mifepristone, but said that would not go into effect for a week, while appeals are filed.
“There’s no change for at least seven days, so as of now we are still prescribing and giving our patients mifepristone,” Gavin said.
If they can no longer use mifepristone, Gavin said A Woman’s Choice clinics will still make medication abortions available, but only using the drug misoprostol, which causes contractions.
“That just means there would be more pills, and obviously there would be more side effects,” Gavin said.
Alison Kiser, senior director of external affairs for Planned Parenthood South Atlantic said the organization is still looking at options if mifepristone ultimately can’t be used.
“We are looking at all legal options available,” she noted.
But that may not be necessary.
It’s still not clear if mifepristone will lose approval nationwide or not.
Not only is the Texas judge’s ruling being appealed, but another federal judge in Washington state ordered the FDA to regulate mifepristone as usual in a number of states that sued for greater access. North Carolina is not involved in that case.
“The decision out of Washington would only apply to the plaintiffs in the lawsuit,” explained Kiser, “And at the time, North Carolina is not one of them.”
She said she expects that the Supreme Court could ultimately determine the fate of mifepristone, but emphasizes that nothing has changed — for the moment.
“Medication abortion is still legal and available in North Carolina,” Kiser said.