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Illinois Attorney General
Kwame Raoul

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February 10, 2023

Raoul and Coalition Argue that Revoking FDA Approval of Medication Abortion Would Endanger Lives Nationwide

Chicago  — Attorney General Kwame Raoul, as part of a coalition of attorneys general, today took action to defend and protect safe access to medication abortion nationwide. In  an amicus brief filed in Alliance of Hippocratic Medicine v. U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a case pending in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Raoul and the coalition of 22 states ask the court to reject a challenge brought by anti-abortion groups seeking to revoke the FDA’s approval of the medication abortion drug, mifepristone. The brief warns that withdrawing federal approval for mifepristone would drastically reduce access to a safe method of abortion care and miscarriage management for millions of people across the country.

Illinois law protects the right to have an abortion and treats abortion like other kinds of health care. A ban on mifepristone would not change Illinois law around abortion, but it would affect access to the medication in other states where abortion is legal. Raoul and the coalition are urging the court to reject this baseless attempt to undermine the FDA’s authority, upend decades of medical practice and trample the rule of law. 

“Revoking the FDA’s approval of mifepristone would not impact the protected right to abortion in Illinois, but it would significantly reduce access to an important and safe method for abortion care and miscarriage management,” Raoul said. “This would unnecessarily force patients to seek more invasive and burdensome care options, and strain already overburdened care providers. That is why I am urging the court not to restrict access to a medication that has been safely used for decades.”

“Planned Parenthood of Illinois (PPIL) applauds Attorney General Kwame Raoul and the coalition of attorneys general in taking a stand to protect access to medication abortion,” said Jennifer Welch, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Illinois. “Revoking the FDA’s approval of mifepristone would eliminate our patients’ ability to choose a method of ending a pregnancy that is safe and effective. At PPIL, we continue to offer all abortion-care options because everyone should have the ability to make a decision that is best for their bodies, their lives and their futures.”

In 2000, the FDA approved mifepristone as a single-dose oral medication used for early-term abortions. Since its approval, mifepristone has been safely used by approximately 5 million people to terminate pregnancy and is used in more than half of all abortions today. Decades of clinical research and studies have confirmed mifepristone’s safety and efficacy.

If the district court orders the FDA to withdraw or suspend approval for mifepristone, the medication could be removed from the market nationwide. In their brief, Raoul and the coalition argue that requiring the FDA to withdraw or suspend its approval of mifepristone, despite the overwhelming clinical data demonstrating its safety and efficacy, risks undermining the integrity of the FDA-approval process for other drugs.

The availability of mifepristone has been particularly critical in providing access to abortion and miscarriage management in low-income, underserved and rural communities. The coalition also asserts that revoking the FDA approval of mifepristone would force millions to seek more invasive and expensive procedural abortions, which would disproportionately harm those who already lack access to health care.

Without access to mifepristone, demand for procedural abortions would significantly increase, leading to overburdened clinics, longer wait times, later and more risky procedures, and more complicated and costly logistics for patients. According to 2020 data, 89% of U.S. counties have no abortion clinic, and 38% of women of reproductive age reside in counties with no clinics. Moreover, the lack of access to safe abortion care leads to worsened health outcomes and higher mortality, especially for Black women.

Raoul was joined in filing the amicus brief by the attorneys general of 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, Washington and Wisconsin.