Anti-abortion groups filed a federal lawsuit on Friday against the Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Health and Human Services seeking to reverse the FDA’s approval of mifepristone, an abortion-inducing drug.
Several medical associations — including the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine, as well as four doctors — argued that the FDA did not have the authority to approve the abortion pill back when the agency did so in 2000, claiming there was not enough scientific evidence to support its decision, in a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas.
“The FDA’s approval of chemical abortion drugs has always stood on shaky legal and moral ground, and after years of evading responsibility, it’s time for the government to do what it’s legally required to do: protect the health and safety of vulnerable girls and women,” said Erik Baptist, senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative legal advocacy group that filed the lawsuit on behalf of the organizations.
The FDA first approved the drug back in 2000 for use up until seven weeks of pregnancy, which has since been extended to 10 weeks. The drug blocks the pregnancy hormone progesterone. Patients who take the pill follow up with one or two doses of the drug misoprostol to end the pregnancy.
A spokesperson for the FDA told the Wall Street Journal that the agency approved the drug “more than 20 years ago based on a thorough and comprehensive review of the scientific evidence presented and determined that it was safe and effective for its indicated use — medical termination of early pregnancy.”
Medication abortion has come under the spotlight since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June, as the drug could make abortion more accessible in light of the growing number of states restricting access to the procedure.
Last year, the FDA permanently lifted a requirement that medication abortions be prescribed in person, which has allowed companies to ship abortion pills through the mail.
In 2020, medication abortions accounted for over half of all abortions in the United States, according to the Guttmacher Institute.