West News Wire: A North Carolina doctor on Wednesday sought a federal district court to overturn the state’s limitations on the abortion medication mifepristone in a lawsuit that could have an influence on abortion availability across the country.
According to Dr. Amy Bryant’s lawsuit, the Food and Drug Administration regulations, which are the federal body mandated by law to determine drug access and safety, conflict with North Carolina’s limits on the abortion pill.
The complaint made in the U.S. District Court on behalf of Bryant by the law firm King & Spalding reads, “North Carolina cannot stand in [the] FDA’s shoes to impose restrictions on medication access that FDA determined are not appropriate and that upset the careful balance FDA was directed by Congress to strike.”
Since the Supreme Court overruled Roe v. Wade in June, at least 14 states have ceased nearly all abortions, including access to medication abortion, either because of laws passed by state legislators or because of confusion over the laws.
The limited access has resulted in soaring demand for mifepristone, a single pill that terminates an early pregnancy by blocking the hormone progesterone.
Under FDA rules, mifepristone can only be prescribed by certified providers who understand how the drug works and agree to look out for potential complications or medical conditions such as an ectopic pregnancy, which requires immediate medical attention. But the FDA also says mifepristone is safe enough to be provided via telehealth appointments and mailed to a patient without evaluating them in person.
Earlier this month, the FDA expanded the rules to allow for retail pharmacies to dispense the drug for the first time, so long as they follow certain rules. Some pharmacy chains like Walgreens and CVS say they plan to join the program but are continuing to sort through the details.
But many states, including North Carolina, have their own rules when it comes to dispensing the drug.
The lawsuit names North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein as a defendant; Stein, a Democrat, last week announced his bid for governor in 2024.