U.S. approval of the abortion drug mifepristone has been withdrawn, a decision that could further disrupt reproductive healthcare for millions.
District Judge Matthew J Kacsmaryk trump card Amarillo’s executive appointment, Texassigned an injunction directing the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to halt approval, while lawsuits questioning its safety continue.
In part, he sided with the League Defending Freedom, a conservative Christian group that filed a lawsuit alleging the drug was not properly regulated.
He did not meet the complainant’s demands, but he “laid hold” or withheld approval of the drug.
The judge’s decision will not take effect for 7 days. Meanwhile, the Justice Department announced it would appeal the ruling.
In a statement, President Joe Biden said: “My administration will oppose this ruling…
“Let’s be clear – the only way to stop those who work to take away women’s rights and liberties in every state is to elect a Congress that will pass a law restoring Roe vs Wade.
“Vice President [Kamala] Harris and I will continue to lead the fight to protect women’s right to abortion and to make their own decisions about their own health. “
Mifepristone blocks the hormone needed to maintain pregnancy and has been approved in the United States for medical abortion and miscarriage management since 2000.
It is used safely in more than 60 countries around the world and, when used with the drug misoprostol, accounts for more than half of abortions in the United States.
Some abortion providers say they will wait for guidance from the FDA before enforcing the mifepristone ban.
In a separate ruling Friday night in Washington state, a judge said the FDA must keep the medical abortion drug available in at least 12 free states, creating a legal impasse over the drug that could escalate to the Supreme Court .
‘Ridiculous’ questioned drug ‘safer than ibuprofen’
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists said the Texas lawsuit ignores “decades of data” supporting the efficacy of mifepristone and “exacerbates the current abortion care crisis in the United States.”
Dr Razel Remen, an abortion doctor in Michigan, told Sky News: “Mifepristone is really one of the safest drugs on the market – safer than ibuprofen, safer than Tylenol.
“The fact that people are more likely to have adverse events while driving or giving birth … is absolutely ridiculous to even be questioned.”
Angel, 24, who lives in Texas, used the drug to perform an abortion in February.
Already a mother of three, she decided to terminate her most recent pregnancy because she did not want to have any more children.
Angel said trying to ban mifepristone was “yet another attack on women’s right to choose.”
“You can do it at home…convenient, easy, safe…I just don’t understand how it could be right for so many years. Then one day, all of a sudden, it’s wrong.”
The pill has since become new frontier in the abortion fight Supreme Court Overturns Roe v. Wade – Constitutional Right to Abortion – June 2022.
Many people who attempt abortions in severely restricted states order pills at the post office or travel across state lines to pick them up.
With abortion clinics in Texas closed, Angel had to obtain the pills underground.
“Abortion is almost impossible here,” she said. “You can’t go to a pharmacy. You can’t go to Planned Parenthood. There’s no clinic…no…if you find it, it’s like a blessing.”
Can the UK really ban abortion?
What has changed since Roe v. Wade was overturned?
Now, with mifepristone use at risk, pro-abortion activists worry that getting an abortion in the United States will become more difficult.
“What’s clear is that our country needs all forms of abortion, and we need them to be legal,” Elisa Wells, co-founder of Plan C, told CNN.
Her organization provides information and support to women seeking abortion opportunities in every state.
“This injustice has been achieved by manipulating the court system to try and ban this drug … it’s just outrageous,” Ms Wells said.
“We are a modern democracy, and we need legal and unrestricted access to basic health care — and that includes abortion — everywhere in our country.”
For those still trying to have a medical abortion, there are alternatives to mifepristone.
Some doctors have been anticipating the ruling and plan to switch to a misoprostol-only option. They say the method is still safe, but may have more side effects and increased discomfort.
The decision marks yet another contentious legal battle in the United States over abortion access that could end in the Supreme Court.