Vermont's Republican Gov. Phil Scott signed abortion protection laws Wednesday that are the first in the nation to explicitly protect access to the abortion drug mifepristone.
The bill specifically shields health care providers who are giving legal reproductive and gender-affirming health care services.
Such services include "medication that was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for termination of a pregnancy as of January 1, 2023, regardless of the medication’s current FDA approval status," according to the bill's language.
This means protection for mifepristone would continue in the state even if the Food and Drug Administration later withdrew its approval.
State law cannot supersede federal law under the U.S. Constitution, so it's not clear whether the law would survive legal challenges.
In April the Supreme Court decided to keep the drug available on the market while a case on its legality plays out in lower court.
District Court Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk blocked the FDA’s approval of mifepristone following a lawsuit by an anti-abortion rights group. The group claims the FDA rushed the drug’s approval more than two decades ago and it poses health risks to those who use it.
The Fifth Circuit Court is expected to hold its next hearing in that case on May 17.
Vermont's Gov. Scott says the state will stand for medical privacy regardless of the case's ultimate outcome.
"Today, we reaffirm once again that Vermont stands on the side of privacy, personal autonomy and reproductive liberty, and that providers are free to practice without fear," Scott said in a statement.
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