Federal judge in Washington confirms that federal government is barred from taking any action that would reduce access to mifepristone in 18 states
SPOKANE — Today Judge Thomas O. Rice of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington issued an order reiterating that his injunction protecting access to mifepristone in Washington and 17 other states remains in full force and effect notwithstanding recent orders by courts in Texas.
Yesterday, in an appeal of a separate Texas lawsuit, a panel of judges in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals issued an order imposing restrictions on access to mifepristone. Judge Rice’s order clarifies that those restrictions do not apply to the 18 states that filed a lawsuit in the Eastern District of Washington to preserve and expand access to abortion medication. Attorneys General Ferguson and Rosenblum are leading that lawsuit.
Attorney General Bob Ferguson issued the following statement:
“The restrictions imposed by the Fifth Circuit’s radical decision do not impair access to mifepristone in the 18 states that are a part of our coalition,” Ferguson said. “The Washington injunction is unmistakably clear: No changes to the status quo in our states — period. The Fifth Circuit’s ruling does nothing to change Judge Rice’s order, and that became even clearer today.”
Ferguson and Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum are co-leading the lawsuit filed in February in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington. Sixteen other attorneys general partnered on the lawsuit on behalf of Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Vermont, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C.
On April 7, Judge Rice issued an injunction barring the FDA from “altering the status quo and rights as it relates to the availability of Mifepristone” in the states involved in Washington’s lawsuit. The FDA filed a motion seeking clarification of Judge Rice’s decision in light of a potentially contradictory order from the Northern District of Texas. Judge Rice responded by clarifying that his order applies “irrespective of” the Northern District of Texas or the Fifth Circuit’s rulings in that separate litigation.
The FDA has announced that it will appeal the Fifth Circuit decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Fifth Circuit’s order imposing restrictions on mifepristone does not affect the parties to the Washington case. Judge Rice provided clarity today: “Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 65(a), irrespective of the Northern District of Texas Court ruling or the Fifth Circuit’s anticipated ruling, Defendants and their officers, agents, servants, employees, attorneys, and any person in active concert or participation, are PRELIMINARILY ENJOINED from: ‘altering the status quo and rights as it relates to the availability of Mifepristone under the current operative January 2023 Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy under 21 U.S.C. § 355-1 in Plaintiff States and the District of Columbia.’”
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Brionna Aho, Communications Director, (360) 753-2727; Brionna.email@example.com
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