Case update: On August 21, 2023, a federal court in Virginia denied the Center’s request for a preliminary injunction that would have protected access to the abortion pill mifepristone in Virginia, Montana, and Kansas.
On May 8, 2023, the Center for Reproductive Rights filed a lawsuit in federal district court in Virginia on behalf of independent abortion providers that seeks to preserve long-term access to the abortion medication mifepristone in Virginia, Montana, and Kansas. The lawsuit comes just a few weeks after an April 7 ruling by a federal court in Texas that attempts to block the FDA’s long-standing approval of mifepristone, jeopardizing access to the drug nationwide. (Read more about the case threatening medication abortion, Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine v. FDA, here.)
This case argues for parallel relief to that granted to the plaintiff states in State of Washington v. FDA after a ruling by a federal district court in Washington—also announced April 7—ordered the FDA not to make any changes that would restrict access to mifepristone in 17 states and the District of Columbia. In other words, plaintiffs are requesting that the court maintain, at a minimum, the same degree of access to mifepristone in Virginia, Montana, and Kansas that existed prior to the Texas court’s April 7 order.
The independent abortion providers being represented in this case operate in states that do not fall under the Washington court’s jurisdiction and therefore are not protected by that court’s order. Many lawmakers in the three states are hostile to abortion rights, posing further risks to providers’ abilities to provide abortion services to their patients seeking care.
Mifepristone is part of a two-pill regimen for medication abortion and was first approved in 2000 and is the most commonly used method of abortion in the United States.
The case was filed in the Western District of Virginia, Charlottesville Division.
On August 21, 2023, the federal court denied the Center’s request for a preliminary injunction that would have protected access to the abortion pill mifepristone in the three states. The court’s ruling came just days after the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in a separate case to reinstate significant restrictions on the mifepristone. (That ruling has been appealed by the government and will not take effect due to an earlier U.S. Supreme Court stay.) In its ruling in WWH v. FDA, the district court acknowledged the safety and importance of mifepristone, and the case will proceed in the trial court.
Plaintiff(s): Whole Woman’s Health clinics in Virginia; Blue Mountain Clinic in Montana; All Families Healthcare and Helen Weems in Montana; and Trust Women in Kansas
Respondent(s): Food & Drug Administration (FDA); Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
Center Attorney(s): Rabia Muqaddam, Hillary Schneller, Molly Duane
- May 8, 2023: Center for Reproductive Rights files lawsuit in federal district court in Virginia on behalf of independent abortion providers.
- June 8, 2023: Hearing held.
- August 21, 2023: A federal court in Virginia denies the Center’s request for a preliminary injunction that would have protected access to the abortion drug in Virginia, Montana, and Kansas.
- Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief, 05.08.23
- Ruling by the Western District of Virginia, Charlottesville Division, 08.21.23
News on the Case:
- Center Files Lawsuit to Ensure Access to Abortion Drug in Three States, 05.08.23
- Press release: Abortion Providers Sue FDA to Protect Access to Abortion Pill, 05.08.23