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Vermont medical groups, Planned Parenthood denounce ruling on abortion pill mifepristone

Mifepristone was approved more than 20 years ago to induce first-trimester abortions in combination with a second drug, misoprostol.
Charlie Neibergall
Mifepristone was approved more than 20 years ago to induce first-trimester abortions in combination with a second drug, misoprostol.

Vermont medical providers across the state are denouncing a recent decision by a federal judge in Texas that aims to halt access to a medication commonly used for medically induced abortions.

A U.S. District Court Judge in Texas last Friday issued a decision to revoke the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s approval of mifepristone — one of two medications used to induce abortions in the U.S. and treat miscarriages. The Biden administration has appealed the decision and requested an emergency stay of the order.

In a statement, the Vermont Medical Society and other organizations representing health care providers said they were deeply upset by the Texas ruling.

"This ruling could have far-reaching impacts for our rural communities," the Vermont medical groups wrote, "with studies showing that the farther a woman lives from an abortion clinic, the more likely she is to choose medication abortion."

More from NPR: What's next for the abortion pill mifepristone?

Planned Parenthood of Northern New England said Monday it will continue using mifepristone protocol "until further notice." Approximately 70% of patients seeking abortion across the organization are seeking medication abortion, said Planned Parenthood's Alison Bates at a press conference.

In Vermont, more than half of abortions are medical, non-surgical abortions, according to the last several years of vital statistics reports.

Vermonters voted last fall to protect the right to an abortion in the state constitution, and there are also two shield bills going through the Legislature right now aiming to protect reproductive health care access.

“There are lots of provisions in both of those bills, but neither of them can preempt or undo this federal ruling," said Lucy Leriche of Planned Parenthood at the news conference. "There's absolutely nothing that the state of Vermont can do about this federal case.”

Vermonters still have access to mifepristone at this time — the court delayed the impact of its decision for seven days to allow an emergency appeal, and Vermont is also part of a separate lawsuit based out of Washington state to protect access to the drug.

The nationwide order is scheduled to go into effect this Friday unless the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals intervenes.

Reporter Joia Putnoi contributed reporting to this story.

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