WV Faces Lawsuit after Blocking Access to Medication Abortion

Nadia Ramlagan

It’s the latest chapter in West Virginia’s attempt to outlaw abortion.

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey is attempting to throw out a lawsuit against the state by GenBioPro – a pharmaceutical company that makes a generic version of the abortion medication mifepristone – according to documents filed last week.

GenBioPro’s lawsuit argues that West Virginia’s current abortion law violates several federal laws, including banning a drug approved the by the Food and Drug Administration.

Rachel Fey – vice president of policy and strategic partnerships with the group Power to Decide – said she hopes it doesn’t signal a troubling trend, post-‘Roe versus Wade.’

“Tylenol is not legal or illegal, depending on what state you’re in,” said Fey. “And we shouldn’t be entering into an era where we’re individual states get to decide what drugs are safe and effective.”

House Bill 305, signed into law by Gov. Jim Justice last year, effectively bans most abortions and bars providers from using telemedicine for abortion care.

The State of West Virginia argues that while the drug is regulated by the FDA, drug makers can’t tell states to expand access to the abortion pill.

The FDA approved mifepristone more than 20 years ago.

Rey pointed out that mifepristone is a critical component of abortion care, especially for people in rural regions unable to take time off work, or lack reliable transportation to another state.

“Fifty-four percent of all abortions in this country are medication abortions,” said Fey. “It allows people to have abortions early in pregnancy, safely.”

Women are now traveling on average three times farther to receive abortions – in some cases, hundreds of miles – according to research published last year in the Journal of the American Medical Association.