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Illinois Attorney General
Kwame Raoul

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April 11, 2023

Raoul Argues That Ruling Threatening FDA Approval of Mifepristone Could Endanger Lives

Chicago Attorney General Kwame Raoul today, alongside a coalition of 24 attorneys general, filed an amicus brief challenging the decision issued by a judge in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas that could restrict medication abortion access nationwide. The amicus brief, filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, urges the court to suspend the district court’s ruling until the appeal can be heard.

Raoul said if the ruling is allowed to take effect, it would halt the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) approval of the abortion drug mifepristone, which has been FDA approved for more than 20 years. Raoul and the coalition warned that revoking federal approval for mifepristone may drastically reduce access to safe abortion care and miscarriage management for millions of people across the country, endangering lives and trampling states’ authority to protect and promote access to abortion.  

Illinois was among 18 states to proactively file a lawsuit to preserve access to mifepristone for patients in Illinois. As a result, on April 7 a federal judge in Washington issued an injunction preventing the FDA from reducing the availability of medication abortion in Illinois and other participating states.

“I am proud to join this coalition and continue our fight to protect access to medication abortion and the right of women to make their own reproductive health decisions,” Raoul said. “The unprecedented and legally-unsound decision made by a single judge in Texas needs to be appealed to preserve continued access to safe, legal abortion in Illinois and across the nation.”

This ruling comes in a challenge brought by anti-abortion groups seeking to revoke the FDA’s approval of mifepristone. On April 7, a single district judge on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas effectively invalidated the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of mifepristone. The court’s order does not take effect immediately, as the district court put its ruling on hold for seven days to give the federal government and the drug manufacturer an opportunity to appeal.

Raoul and the coalition are urging the appeals court to continue to keep the lower court’s decision on hold pending the appeal, given the decades of clinical research and studies that have confirmed mifepristone’s safety and the critical role medication abortion plays in reproductive health care, particularly in low-income, underserved and rural communities.  

The brief explains that if the lower court decision takes effect, it could drastically curtail abortion access for millions of Americans. Obstructing access to mifepristone would lead demand for procedural abortions to significantly increase, resulting in later and more risky procedures, and more complicated and costly logistics for many patients, especially those where procedural abortion is unavailable.

Joining Raoul in filing the brief are the attorneys general of Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin.