When their lawsuit against government drug regulators is debated, a Texas courtroom will be the newest battleground for US abortion rights aiming for a countrywide ban on a widely used abortion medication.
Following the US Supreme Court’s decision in June to end the countrywide right to abortion, anti-abortion activists are focusing their efforts on the prescription medication mifepristone in their push to end the procedure entirely.
The lawsuit against the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) targets a drug that is implicated in 53% of all abortions in the US, or more than 500,000 per year.
While the FDA has never been challenged on its clearance of a medicine that has proven safe and effective, the plaintiffs, a coalition of anti-abortion groups, believe they can win a countrywide freeze on mifepristone distribution.
Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, a profoundly conservative Christian with a personal history of opposition to abortion and a court record of favoring right-wing causes, will preside over the case in federal court in Amarillo, Texas.
Mifepristone, one of two drugs used in medication abortion, has been used to terminate pregnancies by an estimated 5.6 million women since its approval, according to the FDA.
It has a lengthy track record of safety, and the FDA estimates that 5.6 million Americans have used it to end pregnancies since its approval.
But the Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian advocacy group, sued the FDA saying the approval of mifepristone “disavow(ed)” science, “ignored” potential health impacts and “disregarded” the complications that can arise with its use.
“The FDA failed America’s women and girls when it chose politics over science and approved chemical abortion drugs for use in the United States,” they said.
The FDA has urged the judge to reject the request.
“The public interest would be dramatically harmed by effectively withdrawing from the marketplace a safe and effective drug that has lawfully been on the market for 22 years,” it said.