Access to abortion pills is on the line today as a Trump-appointed judge in Texas considers whether to revoke their approval.
Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk of the US District Court for the Northern District of Texas will consider reversing the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval of mifepristone, marketed as Mifeprex, which would halt its use nationwide.
Mifepristone is one-half of the two-drug cocktail — along with misoprostol — that allows a woman to terminate their pregnancy in the comfort of their own home.
The pills rose to prominence in the wake of the US Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v Wade last summer. For women in the 24 states where abortion is either illegal or severely restricted, it could be their only recourse.
A majority of US abortions are carried out with this medication. The drugs recently became available at pharmacies across the US through a new Biden Administration order — even in states where abortion is banned.
Abortion rights adovcates gathered in front of the J Marvin Jones Federal Building and Courthouse in Amarillo, Texas Wednesday during the hearing
Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk (pictured) is a federal judge in Texas that will rule of the mifepristone case. He was appointed by former President Donald Trump, and seated in his role in 2019
The case in question is the Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine vs the US FDA, first filed late last year to challenge the FDA’s approval of Mifeprex in 2000.
It was filed by the anti-abortion group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF).
The group argues that the drug was not properly checked for safety when it received approval 23 years ago.
The ADF also argues that the drug’s approval is nullified by the Comstock Act of 1873 — which bans the sale of immoral or indecent products through the mail.
They argue the law should make it illegal for the drug to be sent through the mail, and the FDA’s approval to do such should be axed.
Judge Kacsmaryk, who was appointed by President Trump and then confirmed by a 52-49 senate vote in 2019, is known as an anti-abortion advocate and is expected to rule in favor of the group.
The ruling would have far-reaching implications for American women, even in states where abortion remains legal.
A move to revoke FDA approval would almost certainly be appealed immediately by abortion rights activists.
But, the appeals court at the fifth circuit that would weigh the case is also very politically conservative.
Medication-induced abortions make up the majority share of abortions carried out today due to the Supreme Court’s 2021 decision in Dobbs v Jackson that revoked federal protections for the procedure.
The drug has had FDA approval for over two decades, which came after stringent rounds of safety and efficacy tests and 12 years safe use in France.
The ADF, on the part of the Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine and anti-abortion healthcare providers, argue that: ‘The FDA failed America’s women and girls when it chose politics over science and approved chemical abortion drugs for use in the United States.
‘To date, the FDA’s review, approval, and deregulation of chemical abortion drugs has spanned three decades, correlated with four U.S. presidential elections, and encompassed six discrete agency actions. Plaintiffs challenge these six FDA actions and ask that the Court hold them unlawful, set them aside, and vacate them.’
More than a dozen states have restricted access to abortions following the overturning of Roe V Wade
Organizers from the Women’s March said they intend to stage a ‘kangaroo court’ outside the Amarillo, Texas courthouse, where protestors will be dressed in costumes to suggest the case is based on fraudulent claims
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