‘Ignore This Ruling’: Pro-Choice Groups and Lawmakers Rally Against Abortion Pill Ban
More than two decades after its approval, Federal Texas Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk ordered the Food and Drug Administration to suspend authorization of the abortion medication mifepristone nationwide within the next seven days.
In a separate ruling, issued an hour after the Texas decision, Washington District Court Judge Thomas O. Rice ordered the FDA to maintain the “status quo” availability of the medication. With access to the most widely used abortion medication in the country in jeopardy, abortion advocates, women’s rights groups, and Democratic lawmakers condemned the decision Friday.
The American Medical Association in a statement that evening declared the ruling “flies in the face of science and evidence and threatens to upend access to a safe and effective drug that has been used by millions of people for more than 20 years.”
“The court’s disregard for well-established scientific facts in favor of speculative allegations and ideological assertions will cause harm to our patients and undermines the health of the nation,” the organization wrote. “This decision introduces the extraordinary, unprecedented danger of courts upending longstanding drug regulatory decisions by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.”
Medical abortions, often performed using a combination of the drugs mifepristone and misoprostol, accounted for more than half of documented terminations last year. Advocates often point out that mifepristone has been proven to be safer than Tylenol.
Texas Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk’s opinion was widely anticipated; prior to the order coming down, abortion providers around the country made plans to continue offering care. Domestic providers like Hey Jane, Choix, and Just The Pill have said they will make misoprostol-only medication available, while international providers, like Aid Access, are expected to continue shipping mifepristone and misoprostol to the U.S.
“We will not let this unjust ruling stop people from accessing abortion pills, which are readily available through alternate supply routes in the US,” Plan C Co-Director Elisa Wells said in a statement. “Our website lists vetted sources that will ship abortion pills directly to your mailbox, no matter what state you live in.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) called the Texas ruling a “massive step towards Republicans’ goal of a nationwide abortion ban” fueled by an “extremist judge who is vehement in his desire to take women’s rights away.”
Schumer reaffirmed his commitment to securing passage of the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would federalize the right to abortion care and has been stalled by the Senate’s filibuster rules, as well as to ensure “mifepristone remains available in pharmacies, protecting health data around abortion, and much more.”
Oregon Senator Ron Wyden, who previously urged the Biden administration to simply refuse to enforce the ruling, repeated in a statement on Friday: “There is no way this decision has a basis in law. It is instead rooted in conservatives’ dangerous and undemocratic takeover of our country’s institutions. No matter what happens in the seven days, I believe the Food and Drug Administration has the authority to ignore this ruling.”
His comments were echoed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (D-N.Y.) in an interview on CNN Friday, in which she condemned the ruling as an “egregious overreach” by the judiciary, and echoed Wyden’s call to “ignore this ruling.”
“It is the justices themselves, through the deeply partisan and unfounded nature of these rulings that are undermining their own enforcement,” she added.
Senator Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) called the decision overreach by a right-wing judge who “does not know more than the women who have safely used this medication for decades or the medical experts at the FDA.”
The Supreme Court, currently controlled by a 5 to 4 conservative majority, is expected to intervene to settle the dispute created by the dueling rulings.
In the meantime, women across the country will be left wondering about their options. On Friday, the groups that advocate for women and people who can become pregnant channeled their collective rage over the decision.
Nancy Northup, president and CEO at the Center for Reproductive Rights, said the decision “has no basis in law or fact” and said the lawsuit was “manufactured as part of an orchestrated campaign to deny all women in the U.S. access to abortion, even those living in states with strong abortion rights protections.”
Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights is calling for nationwide protests of Kacsmaryk’s order; the group’s founders, Merle Hoffman and Sunsara Taylor called the decision “an intolerable escalation of the concerted Christian fascist assault on women, our bodies, our children and families, and our ability to live free from forced motherhood,” and “an outrageous and illegitimate violation of women’s fundamental right to abortion and their very humanity.”
Others planned to channel their fury into electoral consequences. In a statement on Friday, EMILY’s List President Laphonza Butler declared the powerful women’s PAC is “working overtime to replace Republicans up and down the ballot with Democratic pro-choice women who are committed to protecting our reproductive freedoms no matter what.”
Trump-Nominated Judge Will Now Oversee Disney-DeSantis Lawsuit
- Financial Conflict