Federal judges in Texas and Washington handed down two opposing rulings on the abortion pill mifepristone on Friday, jeopardizing access to the drug and putting the US Food and Drug Administration in a legally impossible situation.
In Texas, US District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk suspended the FDA’s approval of mifepristone. Kacsmaryk’s decision was riddled with false statements about medication abortion and the risks of mifepristone, which has been used by millions of women since it was first approved by the FDA 23 years ago. His order won’t take effect for seven days, allowing the federal government time to appeal. Within hours of the decision, both the US Justice Department and a manufacturer of mifepristone announced plans to challenge the ruling.
In Washington state, US District Judge Thomas Rice issued a separate ruling ordering the FDA to maintain the status quo for mifepristone by not blocking its availability.
For now, access to the drug remains unchanged. The anti-abortion movement has been trying to restrict access to medication abortion since before Roe v. Wade was overturned. While past attempts to challenge the FDA’s approval process were all summarily rejected, now the availability of the drug will ultimately be decided by higher courts.
The Texas lawsuit and the plaintiffs’ demand for a nationwide injunction represent the increasing aggressiveness of the anti-abortion movement to take aim at abortion access not only in conservative states controlled by Republicans, but also in deep blue states run by Democrats.
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