LYNN LA • APRIL 19, 2023
From CalMatters’ health reporter Kristen Hwang and political reporter Alexei Koseff:
Gov. Gavin Newsom and a cadre of Democratic lawmakers want to be clear: They will protect medication abortion in California no matter what the U.S. Supreme Court decides on the issue — they’re just not entirely sure how.
In a press conference Tuesday afternoon, Newsom, Attorney General Rob Bonta, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and representatives from the Legislative Women’s Caucus and Future of Abortion Council banded together to reassert the state’s commitment to reproductive rights.
- Newsom: “We can no longer count on the Supreme Court, but what you can count on is everybody standing behind me.”
The announcement, however, came with few concrete details other than an intent to act. The administration intends to work with existing abortion bill authors to add language protecting pharmacists who dispense mifepristone, strengthening privacy protections and shoring up the state’s supply chain of the medication. Draft language was not available and specific bill authors have not been concretely identified, spokesperson Anthony York told reporters.
- York: “We’re early in the process. We’re going to see what the courts do…and then work with the author on that bill and also on the pharmacy issue.”
The Supreme Court is expected to issue a much-anticipated ruling as early as today that will impact access to the abortion pill mifepristone nationally. The latest legal challenge to abortion accuses the U.S. Food and Drug Administration of acting improperly two decades ago to approve mifepristone, which blocks a hormone necessary for pregnancy and is commonly used for miscarriage management.
The ruling has resulted in a rapid-fire game of judicial ping-pong. Less than a week after a federal judge in Texas invalidated mifepristone’s FDA approval on April 7, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals partially overruled the decision, allowing the drug to stay on the market with significant restrictions. Forty-eight hours after that, conservative Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito issued an administrative stay on the Fifth Circuit’s order, effectively saying there will be no changes to the drug’s status until the high court decides what comes next.
From here, the Supreme Court could make a decision in any number of directions: It could let the stay expire, removing the drug from the market; it could extend the stay, letting it remain on the market with restrictions that California can’t avoid; or it could broaden the stay, letting it remain on the market as is.
Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California President Jodi Hicks put the Supreme Court’s anticipated decision into stark terms: “The reality is we are not immune.”
Should the Supreme Court overturn the FDA’s approval of mifepristone, it’s unclear how a California law allowing pharmacists to continue dispensing the medication would be enforced. On Tuesday, Newsom said he believed in “the rule of law.”
Newsom said the state has “ample supply” of mifepristone, but provided few details. Spokesperson Brandon Richards later clarified that pharmacies across the state have enough mifepristone on hand to meet demand but the state does not have a stockpile. Last week, Newsom announced a state stockpile of 2 million misoprostol pills, a second abortion drug that is not impacted by recent court rulings. Other Democratic-led states have secured stockpiles of both drugs.
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Killing the unborn. Is Guv. Hair-Gel really good for any action other than killing the unborn? One would think all new voters from Central America (registered at The DMV!) who keep this cretan in office would know better. No?