Twenty Democrat governors announce forging an Alliance defending reproductive freedom as the threat of banning the abortion pill looms.
The coalition will work "to strengthen reproductive freedom in the face of an unprecedented assault on abortion access and other forms of reproductive health care by states hostile to abortion rights and judges who are advancing their ideological agenda," the statement reads.
The Alliance calls itself non-partisan and invites all governors supporting reproductive freedom to become part of the coalition, but only Democrats have joined thus far.
This news comes when a federal judge in Texas ruling on a lawsuit seeking to ban abortion pills is expected to decide in the next few weeks. Last November, the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a Christian conservative legal advocacy group, filed a lawsuit asking to reverse the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) approval for mifepristone, the first medication abortion pill in a two-dose regimen.
Experts say the ruling favoring plaintiffs could result in a nationwide ban on mifepristone, including in states where access to abortion is not restricted.
On Tuesday, Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk rejected the groups' request to skip a hearing on whether to halt sales of the pill temporarily until the case is fully heard and instead go straight to trial. The Biden administration had also opposed the request, Reuters reports. State attorney generals have also submitted filings in the case, with Democrats opposing the lawsuit and Republicans supporting it.
Demand for medication abortion in the U.S. is increasing. In 2020, it accounted for more than half (54%) of all abortions, a significant increase from 39% in 2017, according to the Guttmacher Institute data. Research shows medication abortion is safe and effective 95% of the time.
Mifepristone is also the subject of lawsuits in West Virginia and North Carolina seeking to expand access to the drug by arguing that state restrictions on it conflict with federal law, according to Reuters.
Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey, who joined the Reproductive Freedom Alliance, says: "In this moment when abortion access is under threat across the country, Governors have a unique responsibility and opportunity to expand reproductive freedom in our states. I'm proud to stand with my colleagues to send a clear message that we are not just playing defense, but moving ambitiously forward to improve access to abortion and reproductive health care."
- Office of Governor Gavin Newsom. Twenty States Announce Historic Governor-Led Reproductive Freedom Alliance.
- Guttmacher Institute. Medication Abortion Now Accounts for More Than Half of All US Abortions.