Maryland attorney general joins lawsuit to challenge restrictions on abortion pill

Maryland Attorney General Anthony Brown joined a lawsuit Thursday to challenge current restrictions on a drug widely used in medication abortions as the U.S. awaits a federal court decision that could pull it from the market.

Brown filed to join a lawsuit levied by Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson and Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenbaum against the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for its restrictions prescribing the medical abortion drug, mifepristone (pronounced meh FE’ pri-stone). It’s part of a two-drug regimen used in 98% of medical abortions in the country.


Mifepristone received approval in 2000 from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The agency categorizes it with drugs under a set of restrictions called Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategies, a designation also given to addictive or dangerous drugs like opioids.

According to a February news release from Ferguson’s office, the FDA requires patients to agree to receive the medication and providers and pharmacies to be certified to prescribe and dispense it.


The attorneys general allege the classification is “unduly burdensome, harmful and unnecessary” and exposes patients and providers to “unnecessary privacy and safety risks.”

Brown, one of 18 attorneys general who are plaintiffs, said in a statement earlier this week that he wants to protect the prescribing and dispensing of mifepristone.

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Anti-abortion doctors and organizations came together in November to sue the FDA in an attempt revoke its approval for the drug’s use. A decision is due any day from a federal judge in northern Texas, Matthew Kacsmaryk. He was appointed by former President Donald Trump and worked for the conservative legal group First Liberty Institute.

Maryland Attorney General Anthony Brown speaks to news crews before participating in a summit to discuss public safety in Baltimore.

It’s unclear the scope of the impact on Maryland if Kacsmaryk rules to revoke the approval of mifepristone. But health and legal experts worry the state could see a further influx of patients flocking to Maryland for care.

Health care practitioners would still be able to safely perform medication abortions using misoprostol (pronounced me ZOH prost’ ol), the other portion of the two-part regimen. But such patients may need to take multiple doses and may experience longer-lasting side effects, according to a recent report from the Society of Family Planning.

The Democratic attorneys general initially filed their lawsuit Feb. 24, asking a federal court in the eastern district of Washington state to declare the FDA’s approval of the drug “lawful and valid.”

According to the Guttmacher Institute, a research nonprofit that aims to advance sexual and reproductive health and rights, medication abortions account for over half of U.S. abortions.

The news release from Brown’s office said that making mifepristone illegal would be “especially devastating to overburdened and rural populations where other abortion services are more difficult to obtain.”


“We will fight to preserve access to medication abortion here in Maryland,” Brown in the release, “and we stand with people across the country to protect their equal right to access the full range of abortion and reproductive health care.”