Speed Reads

looming ban

Court ruling could pull abortion pill off the market nationwide

A Texas federal judge's ruling could potentially revoke the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's approval of an abortion medication, blocking nationwide access, Politico reports. 

In Nov. 2022, Alliance Defending Freedom, a coalition of anti-abortion legal advocacy groups, sued the FDA in an effort to overturn the agency's decision to approve mifepristone for abortion care. The drug is the first of two pills commonly used to end pregnancies. Eighteen states already restrict access to the pill, Politico writes, "many of them as part of near-total bans on abortion." The lawsuit seeks to pull the drug from the market across the country, even in states where mifepristone is legal.

The FDA approved the drug for abortion care in 2000 and later made it available via telemedicine, mail delivery, and pharmacy pickup in response to the COVID pandemic. Earlier this year, the FDA widened access by certifying retail pharmacies to dispense the drug. The lawsuit claims the FDA "chose politics over science and approved chemical abortion drugs for use in the United States." In his ruling, Trump-appointed District Court Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk in Amarillo, Texas, could either revoke the FDA approval or roll back the agency's decision to expand access to the pill. The other medication used in the treatment, misoprostol, would still be available though the FDA has not approved it to be used on its own, per ABC News

The lawsuit is unusual "because it's challenging a drug that's been on the market for over 20 years and extremely safe," Rabia Muqaddam, a senior staff attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights, told ABC. "The evidence that they suggest shows medication abortion is unsafe has been repeatedly rejected by the FDA." Despite having "very little legal merit," Muqaddam added, "this case has the potential to really undermine the remaining access to abortion that exists."