Accessibility links

Breaking News

White House Plans Abortion Access Push

FILE - Boxes of the drug mifepristone sit on a shelf at the West Alabama Women's Center in Tuscaloosa, Ala., on March 16, 2022. A federal judge in Texas ruled on Friday, April 7, 2023 that the FDA erred in approving the drug and revoked that OK,, setting up a legal battle.

WASHINGTON - The White House is planning to re-up discussions with abortion pill manufacturers and U.S. pharmacy chains on ways to push back against efforts to ban mifepristone, two sources with knowledge of the matter said, as it appeals a Texas court ruling suspending the approval of the drug.

U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk in Amarillo, Texas, on Friday suspended approval of mifepristone, which will essentially make sales of the pill illegal in the U.S., while a legal challenge proceeds.

In counter, minutes after Kacsmaryk's order, U.S. District Judge Thomas Rice in Spokane, Washington, an Obama appointee, ordered the FDA not to make any changes to mifepristone access in some 17 Democrat-led states.

In January, the Food and Drug Administration made a regulatory change that made it possible for retail pharmacies to offer abortion pills in the country for the first time, but more than a dozen states have passed laws limiting such sales.

There are no retail pharmacies that are currently certified to dispense mifepristone and many are going through the certification process.

"We are discussing ways to offer them legal support," one of the sources said of manufacturers and retail pharmacies.

Options being discussed include having the U.S. Department of Justice back any legal challenges brought against manufacturers and pharmacies, and providing legal advice on how they can continue dispensing the pills, the sources said. The DOJ is separately seeking an emergency stay of the Texas judge's order.

The White House does not direct the DOJ's litigation strategy, a senior administration official said. The official also said the Justice Department does not provide legal advice to private entities. There is a separate volunteer process that gets private attorneys and law firms to do legal work on different issues that the agency oversees.

It was not immediately clear which companies will be involved in these discussions. The White House declined comment.

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris said on Friday the administration will fight the Texas ruling.

"We're going to fight it. The Attorney General has announced @TheJusticeDept will file an appeal and seek an immediate stay of the decision," Biden tweeted.

The legal battle is likely to work through multiple levels of appeals courts over a period of months or years before it is resolved.

The administration is seeking an emergency stay of Kacsmaryk's order from the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The path forward discussed during the White House strategy calls touched on how the DOJ will wait for a decision from the 5th Circuit, which has a conservative reputation, the sources said.

If it does not stay the ruling, the department will seek an expedited review by the Supreme Court, they said.