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In advance of hearing, New England governors call on SCOTUS to protect medication abortion access

Lindsay London holds a protest sign in front of a federal court building in support of access to abortion medication outside the Federal Courthouse on Wednesday, March 15, 2023 in Amarillo, Texas. Last August, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling that would limit access to mifepristone, approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2000 for the medical termination of pregnancy. The matter is slated to come before the U.S. Supreme Court on March 26, 2024.
David Erickson
/
AP
Lindsay London holds a protest sign in front of a federal court building in support of access to abortion medication outside the Federal Courthouse on Wednesday, March 15, 2023 in Amarillo, Texas. Last August, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling that would limit access to mifepristone, approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2000 for the medical termination of pregnancy. The matter is slated to come before the U.S. Supreme Court on March 26, 2024.

A coalition of governors, including Connecticut’s Ned Lamont, is calling on the U.S. Supreme Court to protect access to the abortion medication drug mifepristone ahead of a high-stakes hearing in March that could decide the future of the drug's availability.

Last August, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling that would limit access to mifepristone, approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2000 for the medical termination of pregnancy.

Mifepristone currently remains available in states where abortion is legal.

The U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments on March 26 about access to the drug.

In an amicus curiae brief filed Tuesday, Lamont and other governors argue that if the Supreme Court allows the 5th Circuit decision to stand, it could undermine their ability to provide adequate health care services.

"Significantly reducing access to mifepristone will not make patients safer—it will only add extreme burdens to healthcare providers, patients, state medical systems, and those responsible for safeguarding public health and safety," the governors wrote.

“Doctors have been safely prescribing Mifepristone for decades, and the only reason efforts to ban this drug are now making their way through the courts is for politically motivated purposes to restrict the ability of Americans to make these decisions themselves,” Lamont said in a statement.

Connecticut Attorney General William Tong, along with Democratic U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, also issued briefs to the court this week asking it to reverse the 5th Circuit’s decision.

In 2021, there were more than 9,500 abortions performed in Connecticut. Of those, nearly 64% were medication abortions using mifepristone, Tong said.

Lamont joined the brief as part of the “Reproductive Freedom Alliance,” which was formed last year and now comprises more than 20 Democratic governors.

In addition to Connecticut, the coalition includes governors from the New England states of Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Maine.

Sujata Srinivasan is Connecticut Public Radio’s senior health reporter. Prior to that, she was a senior producer for Where We Live, a newsroom editor, and from 2010-2014, a business reporter for the station.