NC’s attorney general joins suit supporting abortion drug 

North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein speaks during a news conference outside the Durham County Courthouse in Durham, N.C., June 28, 2021. (AP)

RALEIGH — North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein, a Democrat, has joined other Democratic attorneys generals in challenging a federal judge’s decision to block the abortion drug mifepristone. 

A coalition of 24 attorneys general had filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit to stop Kacsmaryk’s order while appeals are made. 

Representing North Carolina, Stein joined that brief along with Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia. 

U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk ordered the FDA to stay its approval of mifepristone on April 7 and gave the federal government a week’s time to respond. 

On April 12, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals altered Kacsmaryk’s ruling, allowing continued use although barring dispensation of the drug by mail. The U.S. Supreme Court stepped in on April 14, putting the Fifth Circuit’s order on hold until 11:59 p.m. on April 19. 

Following action late last week by the U.S. Supreme Court, the same group of attorneys general, led by Stein, filed friend-of-the-court brief urging the Supreme Court to maintain approval for and access to the abortion drug. 

In a past press statement, Stein characterized the drug as “safer than Tylenol or Viagra.” He also called mifepristone “critical in providing access to safe abortion care.” 

Mifepristone was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2000 and various pro-life groups brought the case to end its use. The drug is in pill form and is administered along with another drug called misoprostol. The two pills are typically given a few days apart. 

Mifepristone works by cutting off the supply of hormones that maintain the interior of a woman’s uterus which interrupts the uterus’ ability to support the pregnancy and ultimately causes the uterus to eject its contents, including the fetus. 

Among the “common side effects” of mifepristone are vaginal bleeding, cramping, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, back pain, and tiredness. The less common, however, more severe side effects include allergic reactions, low blood pressure, loss of consciousness, infections after abortion, ruptured ectopic pregnancy, shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat (tachycardia), and hematometra (collection of blood in the uterus). 

Stein, who is running for governor in 2024, has repeatedly refused to defend state law by seeking enforcement of a blocked 20-week abortion ban following the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs v. Jackson decision that returned abortion law decisions back to the states.  

Speaker Tim Moore (R-Kings Mountain) and Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Eden) countered Stein’s refusal by filing a motion to intervene with the court. 

“North Carolina’s reasonable restrictions on chemical abortions are designed to protect women, plain and simple. However, the Attorney General has made it abundantly clear that when faced with the opportunity to uphold his oath or advance his political career, he will pick his career every time,” House Moore and Berger said in a joint statement at the time. “Since Attorney General Stein won’t do the job he was elected to do, legislative leaders will intervene in this case to defend our state’s pro-life laws.” 

The motion asked U.S. District Judge William Osteen to vacate his 2019 ruling blocking the state’s 20-week abortion law instituted in 1973 based on the ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court and other past precedents. 

“Within moments of the Dobbs decision being issued, the attorney general decried the ruling and posted on Twitter asking people to donate to his political campaign so that he could fight against pro-life laws,” Berger and Moore wrote in their motion. “He (Stein) publicly opposes the statutes he is tasked with defending and is engaged in fundraising efforts based on his opposition.” 

The Republican lawmaker’s prevailed, and on Aug. 17, 2022, Osteen lifted the injunction on the law. 

Osteen addressed plaintiffs supporting the continuation of the injunction, stating that “Contrary to the parties’ arguments, leaving the injunction in place wrongfully heightens confusion because to do so is misleading as to the effect of Dobbs.” 

 “Neither this court, nor the public, nor counsel, nor providers have the right to ignore the rule of law as determined by the Supreme Court,” Osteen wrote in his decision.

About A.P. Dillon 973 Articles
A.P. Dillon is a North State Journal reporter located near Raleigh, North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_