Abortion pill maker says Mississippi law is unlawful 'de facto ban' on drug

3 minute read

Supporters of reproductive choice take part in the nationwide Women's March, held after Texas rolled out a near-total ban on abortion procedures and access to abortion-inducing medications, in Jackson, Mississippi, U.S., October 2, 2021. REUTERS/Rory Doyle

Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com
  • Nevada's GenBioPro seeks to challenge Mississippi abortion ban as applied to medication
  • Biden administration has pledged to protect access to medication abortion

(Reuters) - The maker of a drug used in medication abortions has sought to expand its 2020 lawsuit challenging Mississippi's restrictions on that procedure to target the state's "trigger law" banning nearly all abortions that went into effect following the U.S. Supreme Court's reversal of its landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling protecting abortion rights nationwide.

In a motion filed on Thursday in federal court in Jackson seeking permission to file a new complaint in the case, GenBioPro Inc said the trigger law amounted to a "de facto ban" on the drug mifepristone even in cases of rape reported to the police or life-threatening conditions, where Mississippi law allows exceptions.

The Nevada-based company claims the state cannot impose any restrictions on the drug beyond those imposed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which has approved it for use up to 10 weeks of pregnancy to induce abortion in combination with another drug. GenBioPro has cited the doctrine of preemption, under which federal law generally takes precedence over state law when the two conflict.

Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

The office of Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

GenBioPro, which makes a generic version of mifepristone, first sued Mississippi in October 2020 seeking to invalidate parts of a 2013 state law restricting the use of mifepristone.

Its proposed amended lawsuit goes further, asking the court to stop Mississippi from restricting mifepristone sales under the new law. It said the law effectively makes it impossible to sell the drug even in cases where it may be legal because providers will be strongly disincentivized from prescribing the drug, noting that the only abortion clinic where a brand-name version of the drug had previously been available had closed.

Mississippi said in an earlier court filing that the Supreme Court's June 24 ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health gave the state broad authority to restrict abortion, including medication abortion.

President Joe Biden, a Democrat, has said that his administration would seek to block states from banning mifepristone.

However, it is not clear whether the administration will support GenBioPro's case against Mississippi. The U.S. Justice Department declined to comment on Friday.

The case is GenBioPro Inc v. Dobbs, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Mississippi, No. 3:20-cv-00652.

For GenBioPro: J. Carter Thompson of Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz

For Mississippi: Assistant Attorney General Doug Miracle

Read more:

Judge weighs abortion-drug maker's challenge to Mississippi law

Abortion pill maker GenBioPro hires lobbying firm Emergent

Abortion drug maker says Mississippi can't ban pill despite Supreme Court ruling

White House prepares to fight states over abortion pill

Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Thomson Reuters

Brendan Pierson reports on product liability litigation and on all areas of health care law. He can be reached at brendan.pierson@thomsonreuters.com.