OSSINING, NY – On Thursday, October 12th, 603 legislators across 49 states submitted an amicus brief calling on the Supreme Court to review FDA v. Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine, a case that will have nationwide implications for abortion access. Among them were two local legislators, Assemblymembers Chris Burdick and Dana Levenberg. In the brief, Burdick and Levenberg join other state legislators calling on the United States Supreme Court to reject the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision, which would reverse over 20 years of advancements in reproductive healthcare. It would also undermine reproductive freedom in states like New York, where abortion access is legal.
The case, which is the first abortion-related matter before the high court since it overturned Roe v. Wade over a year ago, challenges the FDA’s approval of mifepristone, one of two medicines used in medication abortion care as well as the management of miscarriages. The medication has more than two decades of evidence of its safety and effectiveness. In the amicus brief, lawmakers argue that if the Fifth Circuit’s decision goes into effect, it would undermine the FDA’s authority to approve medications on the market, which Americans rely on to safeguard access to essential medicines.
In New York State, the ruling could also restrict a common and safe method of terminating pregnancies in the first trimester. According to U.S. Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar, more than half of American women who choose to terminate pregnancies use mifepristone in combination with another drug, misoprostol, to do so. The combination of the two drugs decreases side effects for patients, with mifepristone acting to make the process easier and less painful. If mifepristone became unavailable, patients choosing to terminate early pregnancies or requiring treatment for a miscarriage would either experience harsher side effects using misoprostol only or need to choose a more invasive procedure.
“The aggressive assault on women’s reproductive health knows no bounds to extremists, who now are attacking the FDA’s approval of mifepristone,” said Assemblymember Burdick. “The wanton disregard for the health and safety of women is unconscionable. We must fight against this assault, not only for the safety of women but also for the FDA’s central mission of protecting all Americans. I have joined this amicus brief because I have nothing less than a moral obligation to do so.”
“This ruling is an attempt to put first-trimester abortions out of reach for millions of women around the country, including right here in New York,” said Assemblywoman Levenberg. “A handful of extreme right-wing judges are trying to impose their will on voters who overwhelmingly support the right to choose, particularly early on in pregnancy. I was elected in part to defend reproductive freedom, and I have joined more than 600 other state lawmakers to do so in this case.”
The effort to file a joint amicus brief was organized by the Reproductive Freedom Leadership Council (RFLC), a project of State Innovation of Exchange (SiX). “As we face an abortion access crisis in this country, state lawmakers are on the front lines of determining the future of abortion care,” said Jennifer Driver, Senior Director of Reproductive Rights at SiX. “Now, in a case that has the potential to reverberate across all 50 states, those same lawmakers are calling on the Supreme Court to intervene before the landscape for care is further decimated.”