The Fight Continues: Abortion and the Fight for Mifepristone
As many of us expected Judge Matthew J. Kacsmaryk of the Northern District of Texas ruled that the abortion pill (Mifepristone) was incorrectly approved by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). He “issued a preliminary ruling invalidating the Food and Drug Administration’s 23-year-old approval of the abortion pill mifepristone, an unprecedented order that — if it stands through court challenges — could make it harder for patients to get abortions in states where abortion is legal, not just in those trying to restrict it.”[i]For now, the abortion pill (Mifepristone) will continue being available while it is challenged in court, however, the fear lingers that it will no longer be able to be accessed. Important to note “less than an hour after Judge Kacsmaryk’s ruling, a judge in Washington state issued a ruling in another case, which contradicted the Texas decision, ordering the F.D.A. to make no changes to the availability of mifepristone in the 18 states that filed that lawsuit.”[ii] Ms. Magazine[iii] offers a complete breakdown of the rulings:
The dueling rulings on mifepristone are as follows:
- Friday, April 7: In a much-awaited decision, Trump-appointed federal judge Matthew Kacsmaryk of the Northern District of Texas ruled that the FDA improperly approved mifepristone—setting off a chain of responses from various other courts.
- Friday, April 7: Less than an hour later, Judge Thomas O. Rice of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington issued an injunction blocking the FDA from “altering the status quo and rights as it relates to the availability of mifepristone.”
- Wednesday, April 12: The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling on mifepristone limiting its use up to just seven weeks of pregnancy, which reproductive advocates warn would significantly impair access to abortion. (The appeals court concluded that the plaintiffs had waited too long to challenge the original approval of mifepristone in 2000, but were timely in their challenges to modifications of the approval in 2016, 2019, 2021 and 2023. Those modifications included allowing use of the medication through 10 weeks of pregnancy, lowering the recommended dosage to decrease side effects, allowing nurses and midwives to administer mifepristone, decreasing the number of appointments required to prescribe the medication from three to one, allowing the medication to be prescribed by telemedicine and mail, approving a generic version of mifepristone produced by GenBioPro and allowing certified pharmacies to dispense mifepristone.)
- Thursday, April 13: Rice ruled that the FDA must maintain full access to mifepristone in 17 states plus Washington, D.C.—a response to a lawsuit filed by attorneys general of those jurisdictions.
- Friday, April 14: An order from the Supreme Court preserved the status quo on abortion pills until this Wednesday, giving the justices time to study the case.
With these contradictory rulings, it is likely that this case will go to the Supreme Court. The Biden administration has said it will fight the ruling. In a statement, President Biden stated, “This does not just affect women in Texas…If it stands, it would prevent women in every state from accessing the medication, regardless of whether abortion is legal in a state.”[iv]
However, as the battle goes on the courtroom activists are taking to the stets to let their voices be heard. “Women’s rights supporters across the U.S. are protesting the latest efforts to restrict access to abortion. Protests took place this weekend in small and large cities, including Amarillo and Dallas, Texas; Chicago; Detroit; Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, Calif.; New York City; Seattle; Sioux Falls, S.D.; Tallahassee, Fla.; and Washington, D.C., the nation’s capital.”[v] Much like our sisters before us, we are taking to the streets to let our voice be heard and let it be known that we will not go back to how it was before abortion was legal. Although Roe v. Wade was struck down with the Dobbs decision, we are still fighting.
What we must remember is that the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization’s ruling indicated that the decision on abortion would go back to the states, however, this was all a farce. With the ruling on Mifepristone, it is more than evident that there was never any intention of letting abortion remain legal. This right is being chipped away at little by little, but we must lose hope. Protest and make your voice heard. Let it be known, as one protester urges, “I hope that the court relies on science, and not just junk and ideology. I hope that the court understands that the overwhelming vast majority of Americans do not want to see restrictions on abortion. Americans do not want judges and politicians interfering with our healthcare decisions.”[vi]
Further, “ACLU of D.C. policy counsel Melissa Wasser… stressed that the long-term risks of rulings like Kacsmaryk’s go far beyond abortion rights.”[vii] She stated, “Today it’s mifepristone. Tomorrow it could be a vaccine…It could be another medication or lifesaving treatment,” Wasser warned. “And that means that every fringe group can just go pick a judge, and with the stroke of a pen, millions of people will not get the lifesaving healthcare that they need.”[viii] Many factors are still in play but we must not become too comfortable in thinking that things will work out or not get worse. Our voice is strong, mighty, and millions deep. Use your voice and fight for what you believe in.
If you are interested in reading previously written blogs regarding the issue of abortion rights and resections click on the titles below.
ABORT THE COURT: THE ATTACK ON MIFEPRISTONE AND REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS
WE FIGHT FOR THE FUTURE: THE 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF ROE V. WADE
THE GREEN WAVE: SAFE AND LEGAL ABORTIONS
If you are in need of a reproductive health kit we have some in our offices. Contact our Care Coordination staff at firstname.lastname@example.org or 512-326-1222. You can also contact the Care Coordination Manager, Heather Nicoll at heather@YWCAaustin.org.
[i] Belluck, Pam. Judge Invalidates F.D.A. Approval of the Abortion Pill Mifepristone. New York Times, https://www.nytimes.com/2023/04/07/health/abortion-pills-ruling-texas.html.
[ii] Belluck, Pam. Judge Invalidates F.D.A. Approval of the Abortion Pill Mifepristone. New York Times, https://www.nytimes.com/2023/04/07/health/abortion-pills-ruling-texas.html.
[iii] Bakie, Carrie N. and Rox Szal. As Supreme Court Weighs Next Steps on Abortion Pill, Protesters Rally in Support of Abortion Rights. Ms. Magazie, https://msmagazine.com/2023/04/17/supreme-court-abortion-pill-protest-rally-march/.
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