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With Abortion Pill Access Uncertain, California And 2 Other States Strike Deals To Stock Up

A white pill bottle is labeled misoprostol tablets next to three tomato red containers with the figure of a woman and the words Mifeprex (mifeprisone)
Mifepristone is part of a two-drug protocol that a recent study showed was used in 98% of medication abortions in 2020.
(Robyn Beck
AFP via Getty Images)
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Several states say they are stocking up on medications used to induce abortions as a major abortion pill appears poised to potentially become unavailable in the U.S.

Gov. Gavin Newsom's office says it's made plans to secure an emergency stockpile of up to 2 million pills of misoprostol, a drug used in combination with another pill that is now the subject of legal battles in federal courts. Officials say the state currently has more than 250,000 of the pills already on hand, which were purchased for about $100,000.

"While California still believes Mifepristone is central to the preferred regimen for medication abortion, the State negotiated and purchased an emergency stockpile of Misoprostol in anticipation of Friday's ruling by far-right federal judge Matthew Kacsmaryk to ensure that California remains a safe haven for safe, affordable, and accessible reproductive care," Newsom's office said in a statement provided to NPR.

  • At a press conference held earlier this morning at the Planned Parenthood headquarters in Los Angeles, local leaders gathered to condemn the ruling.

    "We want to make sure that in Los Angeles, that everyone knows they have the right to healthcare in every form. And we also send a message to women around the country, that Los Angeles is a place and California is a place where you can come and seek healthcare," said L.A Mayor Karen Bass.

    Bass also highlighted the importance of elections as the presidential elections are coming up next year and shared that there's hope that whoever is elected into office can help "reverse the damage that is being done" in regards to reproductive rights.

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Meanwhile, Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healy said Monday afternoon that her state has stockpiled some 15,000 mifepristone pills or more than a year's worth of doses. Last week, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced his state had prepared a stockpile of about three years' worth of mifepristone.

In the United States, most medication abortions involve two drugs: mifepristone followed by misoprostol, a protocol approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2000. A coalition of anti-abortion-rights groups are suing the FDA, seeking to force mifepristone to be pulled from the market.

Last Friday, Kaczmaryk, a Trump-appointed federal judge in Texas with a long history of ties with conservative activists, ruled that the FDA should halt its approval. His nationwide order is scheduled to go into effect this Friday unless the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals intervenes.

More than half of abortions in the U.S. are now medication abortions, and the vast majority of those involve the two-drug protocol, which is considered the gold standard here. But the second medication in that regimen, misoprostol, also can be used alone to induce abortion.

Researchers say the single-drug approach is slightly less effective and can be more painful for patients, but misoprostol alone is endorsed by the World Health Organization as an effective option.

Newsom's office says the pills were secured through the state's CalRx prescription drug program, and California is providing information about its purchase agreement to other states that may be interested in taking similar action.

Pharmacies facing shortages will be directed to a state website where they can find information about how to request pills from the misoprostol supply.

What questions do you have about Southern California?
  • Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit

Updated April 10, 2023 at 12:50 PM PDT
An update was made to this story to include local reactions from Los Angeles.
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