By Kanishka Singh
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Texas sued the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden on Tuesday to prevent it from asking pharmacies to fill reproductive health prescriptions.
The Biden administration said in July 2022 that refusing to fill prescriptions for drugs that could be used to terminate a pregnancy could violate federal law, regardless of various state bans on the procedure.
This guidance from the Biden administration, which involved roughly 60,000 U.S. retail pharmacies, came days after Biden signed an executive order easing access to services to terminate pregnancies after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Roe v. Wade ruling that made abortions legal nationwide.
The lawsuit was filed on Tuesday against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas. The department did not immediately respond to a request for comment late on Tuesday.
“The Biden Administration knows that it has no legal authority to institute this radical abortion agenda, so now it’s trying to intimidate every pharmacy in America by threatening to withhold federal funds,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a statement on Tuesday.
White House officials said in January that 60 anti-abortion bills have been filed in the 2023 legislative session and over 26 million women currently live in U.S. states that have banned abortion.
The Food and Drug Administration said January that abortion pills would become more widely available at pharmacies and through the mail. A legal battle is under way at a federal court in Texas, where abortion opponents have sued to undo the approval of the drugs.
A group of 20 Republican state attorneys general last week told Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc and CVS Health Corp that they risk running afoul of federal and state law if they dispense the abortion drug mifepristone by mail.
Walgreens and CVS have said they intend to become certified and dispense the drug in states where abortion is legal, though neither has yet done so.
(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Washington; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)