California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Monday that the state had secured an emergency stockpile of up to 2 million pills of misoprostol, a widely-used abortion medication.
The announcement comes after a federal judge in Texas on Friday halted FDA approval of mifepristone, another abortion medication, in what is viewed as a major victory for anti-abortion conservatives.
“In response to this extremist ban on a medication abortion drug, our state has secured a stockpile of an alternative medication abortion drug to ensure that Californians continue to have access to safe reproductive health treatments,” Newsom said in a statement. “We will not cave to extremists who are trying to outlaw these critical abortion services. Medication abortion remains legal in California.”
While mifepristone is part of a two-drug regime, misoprostol can be safely used independently, Newsom’s office said. Doctors, however, prefer that the two drugs be used together, according to guidance from the World Health Organization.
Misoprostol alone “is less effective than the combined regimen,” according to the WHO handbook.
The drug stockpile was purchased through CalRx, the state’s affordable prescription drug program. Misoprostol will be available to California pharmacies through the abortion.ca.gov website.
U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, on Friday ordered a hold on federal approval of mifepristone in a decision that overruled decades of scientific approval. His ruling, which doesn’t take immediate effect, came practically at the same time that U.S. District Judge Thomas O. Rice, an appointee of former President Barack Obama, essentially ordered the opposite in a different case in Washington. The split likely puts the issue on an accelerated path to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Newsom has avidly supported keeping abortion legal in the Golden State.
In September 2022, Newsom signed a budget and legislative package into law that invested more than $200 million in new funds to protect and increase access to sexual and reproductive health care, including abortion care, a news release said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.