The abortion medication is one of two drugs used to induce an abortion and terminate pregnancy up to 10 weeks. It was approved by the FDA 23 years ago.
Back in November, a lawsuit was filed by a group of physicians and an anti-abortion rights group, saying the abortion pill was improperly approved.
In the 67-page opinion filed Friday, U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk said, “The Court does not second-guess FDA’s decision-making lightly. But here, FDA acquiesced on its legitimate safety concerns – in violation of its statutory duty – based on plainly unsound reasoning and studies that did not support its conclusions.”
The abortion medication pill can still be accessed right now. We won’t know for another week if that will change, but if it does, the FDA says removing the option could lead to overcrowding and delays at clinics already grappling with more patients navigating abortion restrictions in neighboring states.
“Right now, it doesn’t mean anything … There’s now a federal judge in Washington who said the opposite, who said we cannot take mifepristone off of pharmacy shelves, and so now there are dueling injunctions,” said CBS News legal analyst Jessica Levinson.
“Some of these rulings, I think we’ve been preparing and anticipating for there being these egregious overreaches by members of the judiciary appointed by a rightwing Republican party whose goal for a very long time was to just pack these courts with partisan judges,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said.
The pills have been increasingly significant in the fights over abortion access that have ensued since Roe v. Wade was overturned.
Planned Parenthood tweeted Friday, “This won’t go into effect for at least 7 days … We’ll always be fighting for your care.”
“Nothing changes for sure for seven days, likely longer because the Fifth Circuit is then going to have to review the decision, and potentially nothing changes ever,” Levinson said.
The group behind the lawsuit, the Alliance Defending Freedom, calls the ruling a significant victory, saying in a statement:
“By illegally approving dangerous chemical abortion drugs, the FDA put women and girls in harm’s way, and it’s high time the agency is held accountable for its reckless actions. Pregnancy is not an illness, and chemical abortion drugs don’t provide a therapeutic benefit—they can pose serious and life-threatening complications to the mother, in addition to ending a baby’s life. The FDA never had the authority to approve these hazardous drugs and remove important safeguards. This is a significant victory for the doctors and medical associations we represent and more importantly, the health and safety of women and girls.”
New York Attorney General Letitia James released the following statement:
“Today’s decision blatantly disregards decades of medical research for politically motivated reasons that will jeopardize the health of millions of people nationwide. Restricting access to safe and effective medication is a dangerous attack on reproductive freedom, public health, and scientific integrity.
“Let me be clear: abortion continues to be legal in New York and New York will remain a safe haven for anyone seeking abortion care. The fight for reproductive justice is not over. New York will continue to do everything within its power to protect reproductive rights, because it should always be your body, and your choice.”
Mayor Eric Adams said in a statement:
“Nearly 10 months ago, a Supreme Court packed with Trump appointees issued a ruling taking us 50 years back in time as they sought to shackle women and others in reproductive bondage. Make no mistake, today’s ruling by another Trump appointee could make it even harder for people to access an abortion, even here in New York City, and is a clear act of war on women. In New York City, more than 2,000 women had medication abortions at NYC Health + Hospitals facilities last year, and we recently expanded abortion access, making medication abortion available for free at our city-run health clinics — becoming the first health department in the nation to do so — but banning one of the medications for the simplest, quickest, and most commons ways for women to access abortions nationwide is a cruel and inhumane decision by a court set on trampling the law, not upholding it. While women here in New York still have other options for abortion, even if this Texas decision is allowed to stand, they and women from across the country should know that our administration will fight every day to stop efforts to control women’s bodies, their choices, and their freedoms.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on Twitter, “This ruling from an activist judge is wildly out of step with the law and sets a dangerous new precedent.” He added in a full statement:
“Today’s ruling is another massive step towards Republicans’ goal of a nationwide abortion ban and could throw our country into chaos. Rightwing activists sought out an extremist judge who is vehement in his desire to take women’s rights away. This ruling from an activist judge is wildly out of step with the law and sets a dangerous new precedent. Senate Democrats are relentlessly working to protect a women’s right to choose from this extreme MAGA Republican agenda. We are committed to passing the Women’s Health Protection Act to enshrine the right to choose into law, ensuring mifepristone remains available in pharmacies, protecting health data around abortion, and much more.”
Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont released the following statement:
“This ruling is yet another devastating attack on reproductive rights. Pills such as mifepristone allow you to decide when you want to start a family, not the government. This case is not about safety. This is about controlling medical decisions that should be between patients and their doctors. We will not let this decision derail our fight to defend and strengthen abortion rights. In Connecticut, we remain committed to expanding access to reproductive healthcare, including allowing pharmacists to prescribe birth control and protecting both patients and providers who seek and offer that care.”