Mifepristone and misoprostol, the two drugs used in a medical abortion....

Mifepristone and misoprostol, the two drugs used in a medical abortion. New York will stockpile five years worth of Misoprostol, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Tuesday. Credit: TNS/Robyn Beck/AFP

New York State will stockpile a five-year supply of one of two drugs used for medical abortions after a Texas court last week restricted access to the medication, upending decades of reproductive health care in the U.S. less than a year after the reversal of Roe v. Wade, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Tuesday.

In dueling rulings on Friday, federal judges in Texas and Washington state gave conflicting court rulings regarding the legality of the abortion medication mifepristone.

In the first ruling, U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, a Trump appointee, ordered a hold on the approval of mifepristone, arguing the drug is not safe, despite it being widely used for in the U.S. for the past 23 years. The ruling was put on hold until Friday and the Justice Department Monday appealed Kacsmaryk's ruling to the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Later Friday, Spokane-based U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Rice, an Obama appointee, ordered the FDA not to make any changes restricting access to mifepristone in 17 Democratic-led states that had filed suit over the issue. 

As the courts begin to sort out the confusion, Hochul Tuesday announced that the State Department of Health would purchase 150,000 doses of misoprostol, which is part of a two-drug regimen with mifepristone, to perform most medical abortions. 

Misoprostol, medical experts said, can be used as a stand alone treatment, but without mifepristone it has been shown to be less effective and carries an increased risk of incomplete abortions.

"Extremist judges have made it clear that they won't stop at any one particular drug or service," Hochul said during a virtual news conference with Planned Parenthood of Greater New York where she pledged to allocate an additional $20 million to support alternative methods of reproductive care if mifepristone is taken off the market. "So we're going to ensure that New Yorkers will continue to have access to medication abortion no matter what."

Wendy Stark, president and chief executive of Planned Parenthood of Greater New York, said if the Texas ruling is upheld, her organization is prepared to offer a misoprostol-only regimen, along with in-clinic abortions. "Let me be clear, this ban on mifepristone does not end access to medication abortion," Stark said.

But Pastor Joni Lupis, director of March for Life NY, an anti-abortion group based in Calverton, said that medical abortions are not safe and that many women later regret the decision.

"We're going to do everything we can to stop [medical abortions]; everything we can possibly do to educate women so they know what they're getting into," Lupis said. " … So we're totally against it and we're going to do everything we can to stop it in New York."

State Attorney General Letitia James, who Friday joined with 23 other state AGs in urging the Fifth Circuit to delay Kacsmaryk's decision, pending completion of the appeal, said her office has established a task force with 40 of the nation's largest law firms to assist abortion providers and individuals seeking access and help with legal questions.

"Abortion care is and will continue to be legal in New York," James said during the Planned Parenthood news conference. "In New York, we respect a person's right to choose."

Dr. Jennifer Lincoln, executive director of the Manhattan-based Mayday Health, a health-education nonprofit founded in the wake of the Dobbs v. Jackson, the case that led to the Supreme Court overturning Roe, said there are additional options available to women seeking medical abortions, even if the FDA is forced to remove mifepristone.

For example, Mayday's website advises women how they can purchase the two-drug regimen through international pharmacies or through mail forwarding, where U.S. prescribers ship the pills to a temporary mailing address that can forward them to any state.

"It will require a little bit of extra legwork," Lincoln, who grew up in East Meadow, said in an interview. "But you will still be able to get it and it's still safe."

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