Alaska joins lawsuit that would take the abortion pill off the market

Governor Dunleavy peeks through a door with a man in a suit in the foreground
Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy follows Treg Taylor into a news conference at the governor’s Anchorage office on Friday, Sept. 27, 2019. (Nat Herz/Alaska Public Media)

Alaska has joined nearly two dozen states and anti-abortion groups in a lawsuit that would eliminate Americans’ access to a pill used for abortions, even in states where abortion is legal.

The lawsuit aims to revoke the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the abortion pill, called mifepristone. The pill would be taken off the market if the judge sides with the plaintiffs.

On Friday, Alaska Attorney General Treg Taylor’s office wrote in a statement that, by allowing the drug to be available through the mail, the FDA subverted the authority of states that have outlawed abortion.

“That intentional undermining of State authority by the federal government is what Alaska and the 21 states who joined the lawsuit take issue with,” the office wrote.

Abortion is legal in Alaska. But if successful, the suit will reduce access to abortions here. The pill is used for about one third of abortions in Alaska. And about a third of Alaska women live in a borough without a clinic that provides abortion services.

The defendant’s opposition says the lawsuit is “extraordinary and unprecedented” and could cause “significant harm” if successful. It argues that the courts should not tell the FDA to remove a safe and effective drug that has been on the market for more than twenty years.

Matthew Kacsmaryk, a Trump-appointed judge in Texas, will decide the case. A ruling could come as soon as the end of the month.

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