A federal judge in Amarillo, Texas, heard arguments in a court case that could force the FDA to revoke its approval of mifepristone, which is used as one part of a two-pill regimen for medication abortions.
On Wednesday the judge questioned lawyers for President Joe Biden’s administration on whether the federal regulatory approval given to the abortion pill mifepristone 22 years ago was proper as he considered a request by anti-abortion groups to ban sales of the drug nationwide.
U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk during a hearing in Amarillo also pressed the groups, led by the Texas-based Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine, to explain how he could reverse approval of a long-established drug.
The judge raised the possibility of a more limited ruling, keeping the drug on the market but re-imposing some restrictions lifted by Biden’s administration, including requiring it to be dispensed in person rather than by mail.
Walgreens CEO made the decision to stop selling mifepristone – an FDA-approved medication used for abortion and treating miscarriages. It’s an outrageous decision based entirely on pressure from anti-choice politicians – not science.
Arguably the most consequential abortion case since the U.S. Supreme Court, powered by its conservative majority, last year overturned its landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that had recognized a constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy.
Medication abortion is the most common abortion method in our country. It’s safe. It’s effective. And it’s been widely used for the past 20 years.
And yet, Walgreens made the decision to not sell mifepristone, which will affect access to reproductive care across the country. The plaintiffs are asking Kacsmaryk for a preliminary order halting sales of mifepristone nationwide – even in states where abortion is legal – while their lawsuit proceeds.
Twelve of the 50 states now ban abortion outright while many others prohibit it after a certain length of pregnancy, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that supports abortion rights. A ruling against the FDA would hinder abortion access in every state as medication abortion – with mifepristone part of a two-pill regimen – accounts for more than half of U.S. abortions.
Mifepristone is available under the brand name Mifeprex and as a generic. Used in conjunction with another drug called misoprostol, it is approved to terminate a pregnancy within the first 10 weeks of a pregnancy. The FDA in January said that the government for the first time will allow mifepristone to be dispensed at retail pharmacies.
Major medical organizations, including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, have weighed in on the side of the FDA, saying mifepristone “has been thoroughly studied and is conclusively safe.”
Abortion rights supporters, contending that the lawsuit is a baseless attempt to slash abortion access, protested outside the courthouse on Wednesday morning. One dressed as a kangaroo and carried a gavel, suggesting that the hearing was a “kangaroo court.”
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