2 states see lawsuits against abortion pill restrictions; is Wisconsin next?

NOW: 2 states see lawsuits against abortion pill restrictions; is Wisconsin next?


WISCONSIN (CBS 58) -- Early this month, the Food and Drug Administration ruled that certain pharmacies can dispense misoprostol and mifepristone prescriptions to patients for a medical abortion.

The FDA's move was to make abortion pills more accessible in legal states.

On Wednesday, two lawsuits were filed against two states, asking them to lift restrictions on abortion pills.

Those lawsuits are against the states of North Carolina and West Virginia.

In North Carolina, a local OB/GYN filed the lawsuit, asking a federal district court to strike down restrictions on mifepristone, saying it stands in the way of the FDA'S regulation.

In West Virginia, a similar suit was filed by mifepristone manufacturer GenBioPro, claiming mifepristone restrictions are stepping on the toes of federal regulations.

The news is turning heads to other heavily restricted states, like Wisconsin.

"They could potentially open the door for similar type of lawsuits in other jurisdictions in the country, states like Wisconsin," said Michelle Velasquez, the director of Legal Advocacy for Planned Parenthood Wisconsin.

Though a similar lawsuit hasn't yet been filed in Wisconsin, the state has always had some sort of restrictions on access to abortion pills, like a waiting period and medical supervision.

After Roe v. Wade was overturned in June, state law banned abortions, both surgically and through medication.

"There is a lot of uncertainty as to whether or not that ban is enforceable, and there's a case right now pending in state court about that very issue," Velasquez said.

Pro-life organization Wisconsin Right to Life believes recent lawsuits in other states are at odds with the Supreme Court's ruling.

"The main argument made by the majority at the Supreme Court was that this issue should be brought back to the states. So, when we think about abortion access, it's a state issue now," said Gracie Skogman, legislative impact director with Wisconsin Right to Life. "We have to determine here, in Wisconsin, what that looks like."

Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood Wisconsin says the FDA's rule allowing pharmacies to dispense mifepristone is a step forward in states where abortion is legal.

"It's been used for over 20 years, about 54% of people who obtain an abortion nationally use this medication to do so," Velasquez said. "It just speaks volumes to the sort of safe, effective drug this is, and being able to access it more easily."

Both Right to Life and Planned Parenthood noted that it is likely Wisconsin will see similar lawsuits challenging mifepristone restrictions.

For now, Planned Parenthood is encouraging Wisconsin patients seeking abortions to find care in nearby states, such as Illinois.

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