Texas federal judge issues ruling in highly anticipated abortion pill case

Abortion pill A pro-abortion activist displays abortion pills as she counter-protests during an anti-abortion demonstration on March 25, 2023, in New York City. | Kena Betancur/AFP via Getty Images)

A federal judge in Texas issued a much anticipated ruling Friday that, if it holds up in court, could take the abortion drug mifepristone off pharmacy shelves due to safety concerns and in doing so prevent over half of the abortions that take place in the country.

U.S. Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk’s preliminary ruling found that the Federal Drug  Administration (FDA) did not follow proper testing and safety protocols when it approved the abortion drug in 2000. The judge allowed the FDA seven days to appeal his decision, which means the drug will still be available for the time being.

Almost immediately after Kacmaryk issued his decision, a judge in Washington state issued a ruling that the FDA should continue to allow abortion drug to be prescribed, setting up a possible showdown in the U.S. Supreme Court, the New York Times reported. 

In ruling for the plaintiff, the Texas Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine’s, Kacsmaryk, who was appointed to the court by then-President Donald Trump, affirmed claims that the FDA ignored its own research and testing standards when approving the abortion drug mifepristone. 

Erik Baptist, senior counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom, the firm representing the plaintiff, said in a statement that the ruling was a “significant victory.”

“The FDA put women and girls in harm’s way and it’s high time the agency is held accountable for its reckless actions,” he said. “The FDA never had the authority to approve these hazardous drugs and remove important safeguards.”

The Biden administration said it would appeal the decision by the Texas court

“Today’s decision overturns the F.D.A.’s expert judgment, rendered over two decades ago, that mifepristone is safe and effective,” Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said in a statement.

“The Justice Department strongly disagrees with the decision of the District Court for the Northern District of Texas in Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine v. FDA and will be appealing the court’s decision and seeking a stay pending appeal,” Garland said.

Garland added that the Justice Department is reviewing the Washington state court’s decision.

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