Washington purchases a three-year supply of abortion pills

Purchase comes in the wake of increased anti-abortion policies nation-wide



Beth DeWeese supports abortion access for women at the Women’s March Foundation’s Bans Off Our Bodies rally, May 14.

ALISA VOLZ, Evergreen reporter

Gov. Jay Inslee ordered the purchase of a three-year supply of mifepristone, a medication used to terminate an early-stage pregnancy. This purchase comes during a time of increased anti-abortion policies being enacted nationwide.

“People need to know that the state of Washington has, is, and will always stand up for the right of choice in our state,” Inslee said in a press conference.  

On April 7, Texas Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk ruled against the accessibility of mifepristone, a medication that has been FDA-approved since 2000 to terminate pregnancies up to 10-weeks of gestation. 

Washington is one of 17 states that filed a counter lawsuit that aims to guarantee the right to access mifepristone in the states involved.

“Think of [Washington’s lawsuit] as sort of the opposite of what’s going on in Texas,” said Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson in a press conference. “In Texas, anti-abortion activists are seeking to ban mifepristone, not just in states where abortion is illegal, but even in states like Washington where abortion is safe and legal. So, they’re seeking a nationwide ban on mifepristone which is used in more than half of abortions.” 

The Supreme Court is set to issue its ruling on access to mifepristone by today.

Inslee said he stands against national anti-abortion movements and legislation. 

“We have to recognize that there are forces abroad in legislatures and courts across the United States to try to take this right away from the women of the State of Washington and that will not stand,” Inslee said in the press conference.

Inslee said he is aiming to get ahead of a possible halt in mifepristone production by purchasing the medication in bulk before possible bans. 

“There is a real threat that a Trump-appointed judge in Texas could take action which could jeopardize the ability Washington women have to access this safe drug,” Inslee said in a press conference. “That decision by a court could effectively end the manufacturing and availability of that drug for manufacturers. We are not sitting idly by while that threat exists. We recognize in Washington that the price of a woman’s freedom of choice is eternal vigilance.”

The Washington State Department of Corrections (DOC) used its pharmacy license to purchase the medication, which was delivered to Washington in full on March 31. 

Chris Wright, DOC’s communications director, said the DOC was directed by Inslee to purchase the mifepristone supply because the DOC has the largest state-run pharmacy system in Washington and the authority to purchase large amounts of medication. 

The DOC purchased 30,000 doses of mifepristone, an estimated three-year supply, Wright said. The bulk mifepristone cost $1.2 million from the DOC’s budget, but it is expected to be reimbursed when the medication is sold to healthcare providers. 

Wright said anybody seeking the medication in Washington will have access to mifepristone, but it is unable to be distributed until legislation allows them authority to do so.

“The agency is currently developing procedures and protocols for dispensing the drug,” Wright said. “We won’t have the authority to distribute it to health care providers until the Legislature passes Senate Bill 5768.” 

Senator Karen Keiser, who sponsored SB 5768, said in a press conference that she does not approve of federal judges making decisions for the entire nation, especially Washington state. 

“Washingtonians have affirmed at the ballot box a couple of times and in statute many times that we believe in reproductive freedom for all in our state, and we’re going to make sure that our health care providers have the right tools and the right medications to deal with the residents of our state’s needs for reproductive care,” Keiser said in a press conference.