Washington State Spends Nearly $1.3 Million to Stockpile Three-Year Supply of Abortion

by Brett Davis


Washington state has stocked up on a key abortion drug in case the drug becomes much more difficult to access, pending the outcome of a federal lawsuit brought by anti-abortion groups.

The drug in question is mifepristone, the first pill in a two-drug medication abortion regimen that has been used for more than two decades.

lawsuit filed in federal court in Texas last year asks a judge to overturn the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of mifepristone and remove it from the market.

Mifepristone was first approved in 2000 for use in combination with misoprostol to induce some first-trimester abortions.

The official shelf life of mifepristone is five years. For misoprostol, it’s two years.

Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump, is expected to rule any day.

“I have directed our state Department of Corrections to purchase a three-year supply of mifepristone; it’s about 30,000 doses,” Gov. Jay Inslee said during a Tuesday morning press conference from the Capitol Campus in Olympia. “The department is able to make this purchase using existing statutory authority. The purchase has been made. The shipment has arrived; it is in our possession and the department is appropriately maintaining that safe supply.”

The state spent $42.50 per pill for a total of $1.275 million for the generic version of the drug.

This is only the first step, the governor pointed out.

“Step two is to authorize the department to distribute this medication to health care facilities and health care providers,” Inslee said.

Senate Bill 5768 would authorize the Department of Corrections to distribute or sell the medication and is sponsored by Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Des Moines, and Rep. Jessica Bateman, D-Olympia.

“Washington state will not allow a judge in Texas to deny the right of Washington women to this safe drug,” Inslee said. “We will not sit idly by. We have to recognize these threats will continue and our actions will continue to preserve the right of choice in the state of Washington.”

The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling last year overturning Roe v. Wade and sending the issue of abortion back to individual states has enhanced Washington’s status as an abortion haven.

Washington has a history of abortion rights going back more than 50 years.

In 1970, Washington voters approved Referendum 20, which established a limited right for women to access abortions, although it required married women to obtain their husband’s permission and minors to get a guardian’s approval to undergo the procedure.

It was the first state to do so.

The Evergreen State was also the setting for a lesser known pre-Roe legal case on abortion featuring a young lawyer who would go on to become a justice on the U.S. Supreme Court from 1993 through 2020.

Capt. Susan Struck was a nurse in the U.S. Air Force who became pregnant while serving in Vietnam in 1970. She was sent to McChord Air Force Base in Tacoma, Washington, to have an abortion, which at the time was a requirement for servicewomen to keep their jobs.

Struck, a Catholic, did not want to get an abortion or resign from the military, setting off a legal battle that was on track to reach the Supreme Court. A lawyer by the name of Ruth Bader Ginsburg prepared Struck’s case to be heard before the nation’s highest court.

The case never made it that far. The U.S. solicitor general persuaded the Air Force to waive Struck’s discharge and change the pregnancy regulation. The solicitor general filed a motion to dismiss the case as moot.

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Brett Davis reports on Washington state government for The Center Square. He previously worked for public policy organizations the Freedom Foundation and Washington Farm Bureau, as well as various community newspapers.
Photo “mifepristone” by Robin Marty. CC BY 2.0.





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