Inslee announces unprecedented state purchase of three-year supply of mifepristone
Governor joins legislators and AG Ferguson in committing to protect access to medical abortion
Gov. Jay Inslee today announced that Washington state has taken unprecedented action to purchase a three-year supply of mifepristone, an abortion medication used safely for more than two decades. Inslee directed the state Department of Corrections, using its existing pharmacy license, to purchase the medication last month. The full shipment was delivered on March 31.
Inslee was joined at a press conference today by legislators who are introducing legislation authorizing the state Department of Corrections to distribute or sell the medication to licensed health providers across the state, and by Attorney General Bob Ferguson who is helping lead a multi-state lawsuit aiming to protect access to the medication.
These actions come as a Trump-appointed judge in Texas is poised to issue a ruling any day that would order the Food and Drug Administration to rescind its approval of mifepristone. Such a ruling would effectively end the ability of providers or pharmacists nationwide to purchase the medication.
Purchasing the medication now ensures it will remain available to providers and patients in Washington, regardless of the Texas ruling.
“This Texas lawsuit is a clear and present danger to patients and providers all across the country. Washington will not sit by idly and risk the devastating consequences of inaction,” Inslee said. “Washington is a pro-choice state and no Texas judge will order us otherwise.”
The legislation that would authorize DOC to distribute or sell the medication is sponsored by Sen. Karen Keiser and Rep. Jessica Bateman.
“The last year has made it clear that we cannot be complacent when it comes to reproductive health,” Keiser said. “The Legislature is taking a number of crucial steps this session to protect abortion rights, but those rights are meaningless without access to care. We cannot allow an extremist judge in Texas to deny Washingtonians access to this safe, effective medication, and that’s why I’m sponsoring this bill.”
“Patients need access to this medication here in Washington state,” Bateman said. “Abortion is health care. This legislation is vitally important to protect your right to get the best care possible, and the full range of medical options. These decisions should not be made by a judge in Texas, but by patients here in Washington.”
Medication abortions account for nearly 60% of abortions in Washington state, and has been associated with fewer serious side effects and deaths than common drugs like Tylenol or Viagra. This prompted Ferguson to pursue a legal challenge to overly-burdensome FDA restrictions on prescribing and dispensing mifepristone.
“Thank you to Gov. Inslee and Sen. Keiser for your efforts. Protecting access to mifepristone is critical,” said Ferguson.
Anti-choice activists and politicians are mobilizing quickly around their long-sought fall of Roe by pushing through chilling and dangerous restrictions on abortion in statehouses and courtrooms across the country. Washington state, however, has aggressively responded with a suite of policies to protect abortion care and access. Several abortion and gender-affirming care bills are expected to pass this session:
- HB 1155 is an AG request bill sponsored by Rep. Vandana Slatter that improves consumer health data privacy.
- HB 1340 is sponsored by Rep. Marcus Riccelli and strengthens Uniform Disciplinary Act language for providers who provide abortion care or gender-affirming care.
- HB 1469 is sponsored by Rep. Drew Hansen and strengthens legal protections for patients or providers involved with reproductive care or gender-affirming care in Washington state.
- SB 5242 sponsored by Sen. Annette Cleveland removes cost-sharing for abortion care services.
“Abortion care is health care — Washingtonians have said that loud and clear, year after year,” said Sen. Manka Dhingra, a co-sponsor of the mifepristone bill. “And in order to deliver that care, providers need to have the right tools, including this medication, which is used in more than half of abortions. This legislation is urgently needed to ensure that Washingtonians and people seeking care in Washington can get the safe, effective treatment they need.”
- VIDEO: Inslee testifies in favor of a constitutional amendment affirming the right to reproductive freedom in Washington (Jan. 24, 2023)
- Twenty states announce historic governor-led Reproductive Freedom Alliance (Feb. 22, 2023)
- Inslee and legislators roll out more reproductive freedom bills for 2023 legislative session (Oct. 23, 2022)
- Inslee issues directive prohibiting state law enforcement cooperation with abortion-related investigations (June 30, 2022)
- West Coast states launch new multi-state commitment to reproductive freedom (June 24, 2022)
- PHOTOS: Press conference following leaked Dobbs decision (May 3, 2022) and press conference following official SCOTUS Dobbs decision (June 25, 2022)