Judges Battle Over the Pill

News: US News
by William Mahoney, Ph.D.  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  April 10, 2023   

Popular abortion drug on the chopping block?

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WASHINGTON (ChurchMilitant.com) - The most popular method of abortion in the United States is facing an uncertain future in the wake of conflicting federal rulings. 

In the Northern District of Texas on Friday, U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk withdrew the FDA's approval of the abortion pill mifepristone.

Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk

Kacsmaryk stayed his ruling for one week to provide time for the Biden administration to appeal.

Within an hour of Kacsmaryk's ruling, in the Eastern District of Washington state, U.S. District Judge Thomas Rice ruled that the federal government must keep the abortion pill available in 17 states and the District of Columbia.

The contradictory rulings between Kacsmaryk, a Trump appointee, and Rice, an Obama appointee, make the Supreme Court's involvement a definite possibility. 

Kacsmaryk's Reasoning 

In his ruling, Kacsmaryk clarified that the court does not take second-guessing the FDA lightly. "But here, FDA acquiesced on its legitimate safety concerns — in violation of its statutory duty — based on plainly unsound reasoning and studies that did not support its conclusions," he wrote.

"There is also evidence indicating FDA faced significant political pressure to forego its proposed safety precautions to better advance the political objective of increased 'access' to chemical abortion — which was the 'whole idea of mifepristone,'" he added.

Kacsmaryk argued the FDA succumbed to pressure to increase access to the abortion pill — to the detriment of women's safety — and that its failure "to insist on the inclusion of its proposed safety restrictions was not "the product of reasoned decisionmaking."

In 2016, the FDA made numerous changes that rendered access to the abortion pill even more liberal. Kacsmaryk noted at least five of those changes:

  • Eliminating the requirement for prescribers to report all nonfatal serious adverse events
  • Extending the maximum gestational age from 49 days to 70 days 
  • Eliminating the requirement that administration of misoprostol occurs at a clinic 
  • Removing the requirement for an in-person follow-up exam 
  • Allowing "healthcare providers" other than physicians to dispense chemical abortion drugs 

Kacsmaryk reasoned that the initial approval of the drug under pressure and the subsequent relaxation of rules governing its distribution calls for a stay of the FDA's approval, which will serve the public interest. 

Opposition to Kacsmaryk

At the top of the opposition to Kacsmaryk's ruling are Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

In a Twitter thread published after Friday's rulings, Biden tweeted that his "[a]dministration is going to fight it" and claimed that the ruling is the "next step toward an abortion ban that Republican elected officials vowed to make law."

Harris released a full statement against the ruling: "In the face of attacks on a woman's right to access an abortion, our Administration will continue to fight to protect reproductive freedom and the ability of all Americans to make health care decisions with their doctors free from political interference."

More opposition came from the nation's largest abortion chain, Planned Parenthood, and from NARAL and other pro-abortion groups such as Whole Woman's Health, which was at the center of the 2016 Supreme Court ruling in favor of abortion on demand against a Texas law.

In a tweet on the same day of the ruling, the founder and CEO of Whole Woman's Health wrote that her organization "will still provide medication abortion care with Mife and miso tomorrow." 

"Folks, your appointments with us are safe," she added. "Abortion is essential medical care, and we all should be able to choose the abortion care we prefer."

News Report: DIY Abortion Kits

Medication Abortion Mechanism

According to the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute, "Preliminary data, originally published on February 24, 2022, indicated that medication abortion accounted for 54% of all abortions."

The use of the drug is currently banned in 13 states but can be prescribed by physicians and facilities throughout the rest of the country. 

The abortion pill mifepristone is taken in conjunction with another drug, misoprostol, up to the ninth week of pregnancy.

Mifepristone, also known as RU-486, blocks the hormone progesterone and causes the lining of the mother's uterus to break down, preventing blood and nourishment from reaching the developing child. The baby dies as a result. After a couple of days, the mother then takes misoprostol, which, together with the mifepristone, causes cramping and contractions that expel the deceased baby from the uterus.

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