Maryland plans to stockpile abortion drug as Supreme Court weighs ruling on restrictions

Maryland will begin stashing away a widely used abortion drug in preparation of a Supreme Court ruling that could limit access to the medication.

Gov. Wes Moore and Lt. Gov. Aruna Miller said Friday that the state will be purchasing a substantial amount of mifepristone in what the executives called an “effort by the Moore-Miller administration to protect reproductive rights in Maryland.”

“This purchase is another example of our administration’s commitment to ensure Maryland remains a safe haven for abortion access and quality reproductive health care,” Moore said in a press release.

Mifepristone —  an abortion drug used for the majority of abortions in the United States — has been approved for medical use by the Food and Drug Administration since 2000, but that approval was recently challenged in a ruling by U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk in Texas.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans overturned the Texas ruling, allowing the drug to still have federal approval but with some older regulations that would limit access to it. This included requiring the drug to be taken in the presence of a physician, so it could no longer be mailed out to patients.

On Friday, the Supreme Court announced that it was temporarily keeping federal approval of mifepristone in place for five days, while the high court considers whether the restrictions in the newest ruling should be allowed to go into effect.

The Baltimore Sun reported that Maryland is buying enough of the drug to last two and a half years, at the rate that it is being prescribed in the state.

In a news release, Planned Parenthood Maryland CEO Karen Nelson said the organization is “thankful for the Governor’s proactive steps to ensure Marylanders continue to have access to medication abortions.”

“This year the General Assembly, with vocal support from Governor Moore, passed legislation that will protect abortion patients, providers and support networks,” said Nelson. “However, legal protections mean nothing if people do not have access. This most recent action is wholly in line with Governor Moore’s commitment to upholding an individual’s right to make decisions about their healthcare and we are excited to have his courageous leadership in Maryland.”

Many other states led by Democratic governors have started stockpiling doses of mifepristone as future access to the drug remains uncertain. In the Republican-led neighboring state of Virginia, residents have had access to the drug through mail delivery since 2021.

In 2024, Maryland voters will decide whether the right to an abortion will be enshrined in the state’s constitution.

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Emily Venezky

Emily Venezky is a digital writer/editor at WTOP. Emily grew up listening to and reading local news in Los Angeles, and she’s excited to cover stories in her chosen home of the DMV. She recently graduated from The George Washington University, where she studied political science and journalism.

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