Lawsuits Filed Challenging Restrictions on Abortion Pills in North Carolina and West Virginia

( – Two states’ restrictions on abortion pills are being challenged in separate lawsuits filed on Wednesday, January 25, arguing that limiting the drugs in North Carolina and West Virginia goes against the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s approval of abortion pills as a safe and effective way to end a pregnancy.

A North Carolina physician who prescribes mifepristone filed the case in his home state. And a company, GenBioPro, that makes a generic version of the pill, filed the case in West Virginia.

Mifepristone, used in combination with another drug called misoprostol, was approved by the FDA in 2000 for pregnancy termination and approved for use up to the 10th week of pregnancy. Because of safety concerns, the FDA used to limit the dispensing of the drug to specialty offices and clinics; the drug combination can cause excess bleeding that requires emergency care, although this is rare. Over the last couple of years, restrictions have become lighter, and access has become easier, which has increased demand.

Although it is not common for states to attempt to ban any drug approved by the FDA (with lawsuits tending to rule in the Administration’s favor), with the overturning of Roe v. Wade challenges are now being made to the FDA’s overriding of state laws because of this particular drug’s use for early pregnancy termination.

The suits come in the wake of the 50ths anniversary of Roe. v Wade, with protests occurring across the entire country this week organized by the Women’s March, with thousands turning out in Madison, Wisconsin where abortion bans are being challenged, and Vice President Kamala Harris giving a speech to abortion rights supporters in Tallahassee, Florida.

There are currently 13 states that ban abortion at all stages of pregnancy, and many other states are holding up enforcement of existing bans due to legal challenges. In 19 states, including the two being sued, there are limits and restrictions on how physicians can prescribe and give out abortion drugs.

According to the research group called the Guttmacher Institute, more than half of abortions in the U.S. are already done using pills rather than surgery.

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