In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland is claiming that states don’t have the authority to ban abortion pills.
In a statement released Friday, Garland, who was nominated to the position by President Joe Biden, voiced the Justice Department’s disapproval of the high court’s ruling and announced that states would not be allowed to ban mifepristone, a medication frequently used to terminate pregnancies.
“We stand ready to work with other arms of the federal government that seek to use their lawful authorities to protect and preserve access to reproductive care,” Garland said.
“In particular, the FDA has approved the use of the medication Mifepristone. States may not ban Mifepristone based on disagreement with the FDA’s expert judgment about its safety and efficacy,” he continued.
Mifepristone, which is commonly prescribed under the brand name Mifeprex, works by blocking progesterone, a hormone crucial for a viable pregnancy. The medication can end a pregnancy less than 70 days along, and was first approved by the FDA in 2000.
Shortly after the court’s ruling on Friday, Biden echoed his attorney general’s statement, telling reporters that his administration intended to do everything it could to keep medications like mifepristone available “to the fullest extent possible.”
“My administration will also protect a women’s access to medications that are approved by the Food and Drug Administration — the FDA — like contraception, which is essential for preventative healthcare, and mifepristone, which the FDA approved 20 years ago to safely end early pregnancies and is commonly used to treat miscarriages,” Biden said.
Last December, the Biden administration reversed a ban on mail-order abortion pills, allowing the medication to be prescribed by doctors digitally and then sent through the mail. According to the Guttmacher Institute, medication abortion has become increasingly common in recent years, accounting for 54% of all abortions in 2020.
Despite Garland’s threat against states seeking to ban such medications, several states across the country have already indicated their desire to restrict or ban pills like mifepristone. It remains unclear whether Garland and the Justice Department would be able to take successful legal action against such states.