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Anti-abortion organizations sue to ban abortion-inducing drug

 Pro-abortion protestors outside of McAllen City Hall.
Carolina Cuellar
Pro-abortion protestors outside of McAllen City Hall.

A group of anti-abortion organizations is suing the Federal Drug Administration over their initial approval of Mifepristone over two decades ago. If the lawsuit succeeds, pregnant people nationwide could lose access to medication abortions.

“It's critical that Congress acts both to create a new federal right to abortion and that they ensure access to medication abortion and procedural abortion,” said Elisabeth Smith, the director of State Policy and Advocacy at the Center for Reproductive Rights.

She also said the complaint is past the statute of limitations.

Mifepristone is prescribed to terminate pregnancies and, according to the Guttmacher Institute, more than half of abortions nationwide use this method. Twelve medical organizations, including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Medical Association,submitted an amicus curiae brief on Friday, asserting that the medication is safe and effective.

Still, plaintiffs contest this.

“These drugs have never actually been studied for their safety. Instead, a lot of this is simply getting politics ahead of science and good medicine,” said Julie Marie Blake, senior counsel for the Alliance for Defending Freedom. The organization — which is labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center — is representing the plaintiff in the case.

However, while the complaint argues that the FDA did not do its due diligence in approving the medication, the Government Accountability Office audited and upheld its approval in 2008 under a Republican president, George W. Bush. Since then, it has undergone two more reviews reaffirming its safety.

Additionally, most of the studies cited by the plaintiffs were largely funded by anti-abortion organizations such as the Charlotte Lozier Institute.

Twenty-two states, including Texas, filed a brief in support of the plaintiffs.

The ADF presented the case to a federal court in Amarillo, Texas, under Trump-appointed Judge Matthew J. Kacsmaryk.

Before Kacsmaryk became a judge, he worked as a lawyer for First Liberty Institute, a conservative Christian organization that has sued to protect people that refuse to write prescriptions for contraceptives or abortion-inducing medications.

Kacysymaryk previously ruled that minors needed consent to access contraceptives at Title X clinics. Smith believes the judge will use the case to continue pushing this anti-abortion and contraception agenda.

“It's important for Texans to understand that this case is connected to efforts to limit access to contraception both for minors and for adults,” Smith said.

Copyright 2023 Texas Public Radio. To see more, visit Texas Public Radio.

Carolina Cuellar