Mifepristone: Next in the abortion medication debate

The Department of Justice has filed an appeal against the decision of a Texas magistrate to suspend approval of the abortion pill mifepristone. 

Attorneys for the Biden administration stated that last week's "misguided" ruling jeopardized the health of women by restricting access to a drug that has been deemed safe for decades. The magistrate in Texas halted the drug's approval last week, but gave the government seven days to file an appeal. 

Abortion pills have been legal in the United States for over 20 years. The dispute is likely to reach the Supreme Court, casting doubt on the availability of the medicine for millions of women. 

The legal confrontation could be the most devastating setback to abortion access since the nation's highest court ruled last summer that there is no constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy. The medication is currently available.

An emergency motion seeking to temporarily suspend a decision made in Amarillo, Texas last Friday was filed by the Department of Justice on Monday. 
The attorneys for the Biden administration have requested a ruling by April 13, one day before the lower court's ruling takes effect.

The government stated that the Texas ruling was "particularly unwarranted" because it would undermine the scientific judgment of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which is responsible for approving medications in the United States. If granted, the government's motion would preserve mifepristone's approval until the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals hears an appeal.

Georgetown University professor of global health law Lawrence Gostin told sources that the decision is poorly reasoned. He also mentioned that he would expect the Fifth Circuit to stay the injunction immediately and eventually on the grounds overturn the Texas decision.  However, this is not a certainty. This is likely the most conservative appellate court in the United States, so it is possible that they will uphold the [Texas] ruling, he said.

Legal experts predict that if the Department of Justice loses this emergency motion, known as a stay, its attorneys will take the case to the conservative-dominated Supreme Court within hours. Mifepristone is one of two medications used to induce abortions. 

The pill effectively terminates the pregnancy, while misoprostol empties the uterus. The Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative Christian legal advocacy organisation that represented plaintiffs in the Texas lawsuit, argued that the FDA ignored the potential effects of mifepristone on the developing bodies of adolescent females during its four-year approval process.

Senior counsel, Erin Hawley mentioned that by illegally approving dangerous chemical abortion drugs and imposing its mail-order abortion regime, the FDA placed women in danger and the agency should be held accountable for its reckless actions. She said pregnancy is not a disease and chemical abortion medications have no therapeutic value. Mifepristone is deemed secure and effective by mainstream medical organizations such as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the World Health Organization. 

Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk in Texas ruled on Friday that the FDA's 2000 approval of mifepristone was invalid. 18 minutes after the Texas ruling, an Obama-appointed federal judge in Washington state ordered that access to mifepristone be maintained in 17 liberal states. More than 300 pharmaceutical executives, including Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla, demanded the reversal of the Texas decision on Monday, calling it a "decision to ignore science."