While waiting for the outcome of a federal lawsuit launched by anti-abortion groups, Washington state has stockpiled a vital abortion medication in case it becomes considerably more difficult to get.
Mifepristone is the active ingredient in the first pill of a two-pill pharmaceutical abortion regimen that has been in use for over 20 years. A lawsuit filed last year in federal court in Texas seeks to have the FDA’s clearance of mifepristone revoked and the drug taken off the market.
In 2000, the FDA authorized the use of mifepristone in conjunction with misoprostol to cause abortions in some women during the first trimester.
Mifepristone has a recommended shelf life of five years. Two years is the limit for misoprostol.
It’s expected that any day now, Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, who was chosen by former President Trump, will issue a ruling.
During a press conference held on the Capitol Campus in Olympia on Tuesday morning, Governor Jay Inslee announced, “I have authorized our state Department of Prisons to obtain a three year supply of mifepristone; it is roughly 30,000 doses.” The purchase can be made using the department’s current legal authority. We have completed the purchase. We have received the shipment and are keeping it secure in accordance with departmental procedures.
The state paid $1.275 million on the generic medicine at a cost of $42.50 per pill. The governor emphasized that this is simply the beginning.
Second, “authorize the government to provide this drug to health care facilities and health care practitioners,” He added.
Senator Karen Keiser (D-Des Moines) and Representative Jessica Bateman (D-Olympia) have introduced Senate Bill 5768, which would allow the Department of Prisons to distribute or sell the medicine.
Inslee has declared that women in Washington will not have their access to the medicine restricted by a judge in Texas. We won’t stand by and do nothing. We must accept that these dangers will persist, and we must maintain our efforts to protect the freedom of choice in Washington state.
Washington state has become even more of an abortion refuge since the Supreme Court’s decision last year to overturn Roe v. Wade and return abortion law to the jurisdiction of the individual states. Abortion rights in Washington state date back more than 50 years.
Referendum 20 was passed by Washington voters in 1970, guaranteeing women a limited right to have abortions, with the caveat that married women needed their husband’s permission and minors needed their guardian’s permission. It was the pioneering effort of a state.
It was in the Evergreen State that a young lawyer who would serve on the U.S. Supreme Court from 1993 through 2020 was involved in a lesser-known abortion case before Roe v. Wade.
In 1970, Capt. Susan Struck, an Air Force nurse, fell pregnant while stationed in Vietnam. McChord Air Force Base in Tacoma, Washington, is where she went to get the abortion that was mandatory at the time for women in the armed forces if they wanted to keep their jobs.
A legal struggle involving Struck’s (a Catholic) refusal to seek an abortion or resign from the military was headed for the Supreme Court. Ruth Bader Ginsburg, an attorney, argued Struck’s case before the Supreme Court.
This was never a part of the case. The Air Force changed its policy on pregnant service members after the U.S. solicitor general successfully argued for a waiver of Struck’s discharge. The government lawyer has asked for the case to be dropped since it is now irrelevant.