As he looked into a demand by anti-abortion groups to outlaw sales of the drug statewide, a US judge on Wednesday questioned attorneys for President Joe Biden’s administration about whether the federal regulatory permission provided to the abortion pill mifepristone 22 years ago was appropriate.
At a hearing in Amarillo, US District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk challenged the organizations, led by the Texas-based Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine, to explain how he could rescind approval of old medication.
The judge suggested that a more limited decision might be made, allowing the medicine to remain on the market but reinstating several limitations that had been eased by Biden’s administration, such as the requirement that it be administered in person as opposed to by mail. Donald Trump’s predecessor, Kacsmaryk, promised to make a decision as soon as necessary.
It appears to be the most important abortion case since the US Supreme Court’s historic 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which had acknowledged a constitutional right to an abortion, was overruled by the court’s conservative majority last year.
The anti-abortion organizations filed a lawsuit against the US Food and Drug Administration in November, alleging that the agency’s approval of mifepristone in 2000 was improperly handled and that it failed to appropriately examine the drug’s safety when taken by females under the age of 18.
While their complaint is pending, the plaintiffs are requesting that Kacsmaryk issue a preliminary injunction prohibiting the sale of mifepristone nationally, including in jurisdictions where abortion is permitted.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that advocates abortion rights, 12 of the 50 states currently explicitly outlaw abortion, while many others forbid it beyond a specific stage of pregnancy.
A decision against the FDA would make it more difficult for women to get abortion care in every state as more than half of American abortions are performed with medicine, with mifepristone constituting one of a two-pill regimen.
At a tiny courthouse in Texas’ northwest corner, the judge spent more than four hours listening intently and interrogating the parties during their arguments.
The plaintiffs’ attorney, Erik Baptist, of the right-leaning legal organization Alliance Defending Freedom, said the judge’s decision should be “universal and nationwide.”
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Abortion Pill Distributor Urges to Continue Supply
Despite allegations to the contrary, AmerisourceBergen will keep granting all 50 US states access to the abortion drug mifepristone.
The medicine, which makes up half of the cocktail required for a medication abortion, has only one distributor—a Pennsylvania company.
The company intends to provide it to massive pharmacy chain Walgreens, which last week, under pressure from GOP authorities, promised to 21 Republican-led states that it would not dispense the pills. Mifepristone is not currently available anyplace at Walgreens.
Anti-abortion campaigners are trying to have mifepristone’s regulatory approval revoked in order to make it illegal across the country, which would be a historic victory for abortion rights.
Notwithstanding a claim to the contrary on Wednesday, AmerisourceBergen assured DailyMail.com that it will not remove the medication from the states involved.
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