As Courts Battle Over Abortion Pill, Hochul and AG James Promise Uninterrupted Access

Photo by Mike Groll, Office of the Governor
April 11, 2023 – Albany NY – Governor Kathy Hochul speaks during a Planned Parenthood virtual press conference from the State Capitol where she announced that the state will stockpile the abortion medication Misoprostol as part of ongoing efforts to protect access to abortion.

In the wake of a Texas federal court ruling against access to the pregnancy-ending drug Mifepristone, New York lawmakers and health care experts met for a virtual press conference Tuesday to promise uninterrupted access to reproductive health care, including abortion, in the state of New York.

Dipal Shah, the executive director of Planned Parenthood of Greater New York, led the conference, introducing speakers such as Wendy Stark, the group’s CEO.

“Texas courts have no business interfering in New York state, and this ban will not end our access to medication abortions,” Stark said, referring to the decision made by federal Judge Matthew J. Kacsmaryk of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas on Friday, April 7 directing the FDA to remove approval of the abortion medication Mifepristone.

Within an hour a judge from Washington, Thomas O. Rice ordered the FDA to stay the approval of the pill, while a lawsuit is being filed against Kacsmaryk’s decision. It is currently unclear which side will stand, and a final decision may not be reached for some time.

After remarks in both English and Spanish about the science behind the pill, Gov. Kathy Hochul spoke about the court’s decision.

“Abortion access and care is still available in New York,” Gov. Hochul said. “For anyone who needs care, our state will welcome you with open arms. Additionally, we are working with the federal government, governors, and partners across the country on solutions to prevent further infringement on care.”

Governor Hochul went on to mention specific ways her administration is helping those who need reproductive health care get access to it, including another abortion medication called misoprostol, allowing pharmacists to prescribe birth control, and expanding access to abortion on SUNY and CUNY campuses. Hochul also announced the state’s initiative to stockpile 150,000 doses of another abortion medication called Misoprostol, ensuring that those who need a medicated abortion will be able to access one, should mifepristone be ruled unsafe.

After the governor’s remarks, New York State Attorney General Letitia James announced her initiative to create a task force with over twenty law firms and nonprofit groups, to create a task force for individuals asking and requiring assistance accessing reproductive health care. Those seeking assistance can call 212-899-5567.

James also responded to the Legislative Gazette’s question about reproductive health care on SUNY campuses, saying that all students on SUNY and CUNY campuses will be guaranteed access to medication abortions.

The decision to invalidate the FDA’s approval of mifepristone is currently stayed by legal challenges. It is unclear how long ensuing legal battles could take, or what a possible outcome could be. The 2024 New York state budget includes “increasing reimbursement rates for reproductive health providers,” as well as other initiatives.

“We’ll always protect access to reproductive health care and all individual rights here in New York,” Hochul said. “It’s part of our legacy.”