Press Release
January 30, 2024

Goodwin Files Amicus Brief on Behalf of Reproductive Freedom Alliance Urging Supreme Court to Respect Longstanding FDA Authority & Access to Safe Abortion Medication

A cross-office, interdisciplinary Goodwin team filed an amicus curiae brief on behalf of the Reproductive Freedom Alliance, a non-partisan coalition of 22 Governors (the “Governors”), in the Supreme Court in Food and Drug Administration, v. Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine and Danco Laboratories, L.L.C. v. Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine, an important case that implicates access to mifepristone, an FDA-approved prescription medication used for first-trimester abortion and management of early pregnancy loss. The lawsuit threatens to upend the federal FDA review process – a time-tested gold standard for rigor and risk mitigation – that Governors rely on to protect the health and well-being of their constituents. Goodwin’s brief argues that if the Court allows a recent Fifth Circuit decision to stand, it could severely undermine Governors’ ability to ensure adequate access to reproductive healthcare services within their States and could have far-reaching implications beyond reproductive healthcare.

Mifepristone is a safe, highly effective, and widely used medication prescribed for medication abortions and miscarriage management – used in more than half of all abortions in the United States. This medication is a critical component of the reproductive healthcare system in states where abortion remains legal. In 2016 and 2021, the FDA made numerous critical determinations that allowed mifepristone to be accessed more widely, finding, for example, that it could be safely and effectively prescribed by state law and that mifepristone need not be dispensed at an in-person clinic to be safe and effective for its prescribed purposes. When a group of physicians who are morally opposed to abortion mounted an administrative-law challenge to FDA’s action, the Fifth Circuit vacated FDA’s determinations. The court held that the plaintiffs have standing to challenge FDA’s determinations and rolled back agency determinations that were firmly grounded in the scientific literature and an extensive administrative record that showed the safe and effective use of mifepristone in the United States and worldwide. As Goodwin’s brief explains, any rollback on access to mifepristone would not make patients safer, but it would cause major disruptions to state healthcare systems, impose massive strains on medical providers, pose serious health risks to millions of women, and compromise Governors’ ability to fulfill their mandate of protecting public health and safety.

The Reproductive Freedom Alliance is a non-partisan coalition of 22 Governors committed to protecting and expanding reproductive freedom in our states. Members include: Arizona Governor Katie Hobbs, California Governor Gavin Newsom, Colorado Governor Jared Polis, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont, Delaware Governor John Carney, Guam Governor Lourdes Leon Guerrero, Hawai'i Governor Josh Green, Illinois Governor JB Pritzker, Maine Governor Janet Mills, Maryland Governor Wes Moore, Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, New York Governor Kathy Hochul, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper, Oregon Governor Tina Kotek, Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro, Rhode Island Governor Daniel McKee, Washington Governor Jay Inslee, and Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers.

The Goodwin team is led by Jaime Santos, Jennifer Fisher, Daryl Wiesen, Annaka Nava, Dorothy Hazan, and Jonathan Rankin.

Additional details can be found in the full brief.

Goodwin has been at the forefront of handling the many intricate legal and regulatory issues that have arisen in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization. In 2022, Goodwin established the Dobbs Task Force, which brings together experts from across the firm to help companies navigate this new and rapidly evolving landscape. The Dobbs Task Force is led by Jaime Santos, who also serves as Co-Chair of Goodwin’s Appellate and Supreme Court Litigation practice, and Christina Lewis, a partner in Goodwin’s Employment practice.