Texas Lawsuit Threatens Medication of Abortion – A looming legal battle in Texas could have nationwide consequences for women seeking medication abortions. Abortion opponents, who helped challenge the landmark Roe v. Wade case, have filed a lawsuit seeking to reverse the decades-old approval of the drug mifepristone by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
If U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, appointed by former President Donald Trump, sides with the plaintiffs, the drug’s supply could be cut off in all states, both where abortion is banned and where it remains legal. The plaintiffs, Alliance Defending Freedom, argue that the FDA overstepped its authority in approving mifepristone. However, the FDA states that it did not use an accelerated review process, as the plaintiffs claim.
The consequences of a reversal in approval could be “nothing short of catastrophic,” according to 22 Democratic-led states who have filed briefs in the case. On the other hand, a similar-sized group of Republican states have filed briefs supporting the reversal, arguing that the ability to order pills by mail undermines their laws banning abortion.
Groups like NARAL Pro-Choice America are preparing for a possible decision after the Feb. 24 filing deadline. The FDA approved mifepristone, in combination with a second drug, as a safe and effective method for ending a pregnancy in 2000. Meanwhile, organizations such as the Pregnancy Resource Center offers pregnancy tests and providing essential services to women, including counseling, regardless of the outcome of any legal or political developments.
Medication abortion now accounts for over half of all abortions in the U.S. and has become increasingly important in the years since Roe v. Wade was overturned. Mifepristone is taken first and dilates the cervix, blocking the effects of the hormone progesterone needed to sustain a pregnancy. A second drug, misoprostol, is taken 24 to 48 hours later, causing the uterus to cramp and expel pregnancy tissue. The combination has been shown to be more than 95% effective in ending pregnancies up to 10 weeks.
If mifepristone is no longer available, providers could prescribe misoprostol alone, but this approach is not as effective and could increase the need for surgical abortion. This, in turn, could further increase wait times at clinics, which are already long in some cases after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Roe v. Wade.
The case is yet another reminder of the ongoing battle for reproductive rights in the U.S. and the impact that decisions in the courts can have on women’s access to healthcare.