State’s Statement on Fifth Circuit Decision to Partially Stay Texas Ruling

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Last night, the Fifth Circuit granted a partial stay pending appeal of last week’s ruling by a Federal judge in Texas to suspend the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of mifepristone, thereby allowing the medication to remain available.  However, the Court temporarily suspended a series of measures the FDA has taken in recent years to make the drug more readily accessible.  While mifepristone remains legal, actions taken by the FDA since 2016, such as allowing the medication to be used up through ten weeks of pregnancy and allowing the medication to be sent to patients by mail, were suspended by the Court.

The decision from the Court comes after the US Department of Justice and a group of 24 state Attorneys General – including Maine Attorney General Aaron Frey – submitted filings asking the Fifth Circuit to pause the ruling while an appeal by the Federal government is considered a move supported by Governor Mills.

“While I am relieved that mifepristone remains available, I am deeply disappointed that the Fifth Circuit permitted legally and scientifically baseless restrictions to go into effect.  These restrictions, if applied in Maine, would only jeopardize the health and safety of women, particularly those in rural parts of our state, by limiting access to abortion medication” said Governor Janet T. Mills (D).  “While the Fifth Circuit continues its considerations of the Texas decision, my Administration is closely monitoring the Federal case in Washington.  If that Judge reaffirms his ruling that mifepristone must remain available in the planitiff states, including Maine, as I believe he should, then the restrictions imposed by the Fifth Circuit will not apply to Maine and access to mifepristone will remain fully legal and available as it should until a higher court says otherwise.”

“We know that mifepristone is being targeted because it is a safe and effective way to end a pregnancy.  Despite references to the contrary, this ruling  has no legal or scientific basis.  The anti-choice movement is using the legal system and false concerns about safety to limit women’s reproducdtive choices, reaching into states like Maine where voters routinely endorse abortion access,” said Attorney General Frey.  “We will monitor the Washington decision knowing that everyday people across Maine and the country are reading the news to see whether they still retain rights to bodily autonomy.”