Biden administration appeals Texas abortion pill ruling, setting up legal fight

Abortion Pill
FILE – Boxes of the drug mifepristone sit on a shelf at the West Alabama Women’s Center in Tuscaloosa, Ala., March 16, 2022. A federal judge in Texas on Friday, April 7, 2023, ordered a hold on the U.S. approval of the abortion medication mifepristone, throwing into question access to the nation’s most common method of abortion in a ruling that waved aside decades of scientific approval. Federal lawyers representing the FDA are expected to swiftly appeal the ruling. (AP Photo/Allen G. Breed, File) Allen G. Breed/AP

Biden administration appeals Texas abortion pill ruling, setting up legal fight

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The Biden administration announced it would appeal a ruling by a federal judge in Texas to halt the approval of mifepristone, effectively banning the sale of the abortion pill across the country.

The Justice Department announced on Friday night that it would be challenging the decision, setting the stage for what could be a lengthy legal battle over abortion access nationwide. The ban on mifepristone is not set to take effect for another week, giving higher courts time to consider the Biden administration’s appeal.


“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,” said Attorney General Merrick Garland in a statement. “Today’s decision overturns the FDA’s expert judgment, rendered over two decades ago, that mifepristone is safe and effective. The Department will continue to defend the FDA’s decision.”

U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk ruled on Friday to halt the FDA’s approval of mifepristone until a lawsuit challenging the safety of the pill can be resolved. In his 67-page ruling, Kacsmaryk said the FDA had failed to evaluate the psychological or long-term medical consequences of the pill, which the agency had deemed safe and effective.

Shortly after the Texas decision, a federal judge in Washington State issued a conflicting order that would block the FDA from restricting access to the pills in roughly a dozen blue states that initially filed the lawsuit. That ruling clashes with the Texas decision, making it more likely that the issue could be brought to the Supreme Court.

The lawsuit to ban the pill was filed shortly after the Supreme Court’s decision last June to overturn Roe v. Wade, which opened the door for red states to enact sharp abortion restrictions. Several anti-abortion medical associations argued the FDA went beyond its regulatory authority in approving mifepristone back in 2000.


The FDA has repeatedly said that abortion medication is a safe and effective alternative to surgical abortions. The American Medical Association, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and other medical associations argued in a court filing that reversing mifepristone’s approval would “cause profound and irreparable harm to patients across the country.”

It’s unclear the scope of the effects of taking mifepristone off the market, though abortion rights groups had previously warned it could force abortion clinics to switch to surgical abortions only, which could inundate many facilities.

© 2023 Washington Examiner

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