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NC doctor files lawsuit aiming to strike down state’s restriction to certain abortion pills

CHARLOTTE — A lawsuit filed by a doctor in North Carolina may impact nationwide access to certain abortion pills.

According to ABC News, a North Carolina doctor has filed a lawsuit against the state to strike down their restrictions on an abortion pill known as mifepristone, a single pill that terminates a pregnancy by stopping the production of the hormone progesterone.

The complaint was filed by Dr. Amy Bryant and says that the state’s restrictions do not coincide with rules set forth by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

A statement from the complaint file on behalf of Bryant was obtained by ABC News.

“North Carolina cannot stand in the shoes of [the] FDA to impose restrictions on medication access that FDA determined are not appropriate and that upset the careful balance FDA was directed by Congress to strike,” said the statement from the complaint.

Following the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade in June of last year, about 14 states have greatly limited access to different kinds of abortions, including medical abortions. Access has been affected either due to a change in state law or confusion about the law, this confusion has caused demand for mifepristone to rise, according to ABC.

FDA rules state that mifepristone can only be prescribed by providers who understand the drug and agree to look out for potential medical problems like ectopic pregnancy, a source told ABC News. The FDA also said that the pill is safe enough to be prescribed during telehealth visits and can be mailed to the patient without a physical examination.

ABC News learned that the FDA had expanded their rules earlier this month for retail pharmacies like Walgreens and CVS to carry the drug.

Multiple states, including North Carolina, have their own rules and regulations as to how the pill can be distributed.

Sources told ABC News that mifepristone use is allowed in the early stages of pregnancy in accordance with FDA rules. The state does require that patients get the pill through a physician, and patients are also required to go to 72 hours of state-mandated counseling.

Bryant told ABC News that she filed her lawsuit because there’s “no medical reason for politicians to interfere or restrict access” to the drug.

“These burdensome restrictions on medication abortion force physicians to deal with unnecessary restrictions on patient care and on the healthcare system,” Bryant said to ABC News.

Bryant’s attorney, Eva Temkin, argues that the FDA preempts rules for the drug.

“Congress has made clear that FDA is tasked with establishing regulatory controls for this drug to ensure safety and patient access in the least burdensome way,” Temkin told ABC.

Advocates for access to pills like mifepristone are hoping that this lawsuit will allow “federal preemption” to be applicable in other states.

ABC learned that many of these advocates see North Carolina as a source of hope for change. Even though Republicans control both aspects of the state legislature, the administration is run by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper.

A source told ABC that NC Attorney General Josh Stein has been named a defendant in the lawsuit. Just last week Stein, a Democrat announced his campaign for the 2024 governor’s race.

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