Amid the battle over a comprehensive abortion ban in the United States, a federal judge in Texas has overturned the approval for the abortion pill mifepristone in the United States. At the same time, arch-conservative Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk said the decision would not take effect for another week to give federal authorities time for a possible appeal. Mifepristone is used in more than one in two abortions in the United States.
The federal judge appointed by former President Donald Trump thus upheld a lawsuit filed by abortion opponents against the Food and Drug Administration, which approved the mifepristone pill more than 20 years ago. The plaintiffs accused the FDA of putting "politics over science" and approving a "dangerous" drug without sufficient testing.
U.S. President Joe Biden's administration had warned in early March against banning the abortion pill. "This move would be devastating for women," White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said at the time. She said the U.S. government is working to "be prepared for any possible outcome."
Politicians from Biden's Democratic Party on Friday immediately sharply criticized the federal judge's ruling. "This ruling opens a new door to the politicization of medicine," New York Governor Kathy Hochul wrote on Twitter. "Extremists will not stop trying to abolish abortion rights." Senator Elizabeth Warren warned that women could now "lose access to a safe and legal medicine they have relied on for decades."
Shortly after Judge Kacsmaryk's ruling, a judge in Washington state issued an order directly contradicting the Texas decision, the New York Times reported. Accordingly, the FDA was ordered not to make any changes to the availability of mifepristone. The conflicting rulings could lead to the Supreme Court having to rule on the matter, according to the newspaper.
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the pill has been used by more than 5.6 million women since it was approved in 2000. In fewer than 1,500 cases, complications have occurred without a link to mifepristone being established, it said.
Mifepristone, known in Germany under the trade name Mifegyne, is used in the United States in combination with the drug misoprostol for abortions. Many women prefer a medication-based abortion to an instrumental procedure.
Abortion law is one of the most controversial and contested sociopolitical issues in the United States. Last June, the country's Supreme Court struck down the fundamental right to abortions nationwide - a ruling that triggered a political earthquake. The Supreme Court decision gave states the right to massively restrict or outright ban abortions. Numerous conservative states have already done so.
Photo by Laurynas Mereckas