U.S. state attorneys battle over medication abortion lawsuit

On Friday, dozens of U.S. state attorneys general commented on a lawsuit seeking a court order preventing access to a medicine used in medication abortion, with Republicans supporting the action and Democrats warning of “devastating implications” if it is successful.

Anti-abortion organizations, including the Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine, claim that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration used an improper procedure and failed to adequately consider the safety of the drug mifepristone when it approved it in 2000. The lawsuit was filed last year in a federal court in Amarillo, Texas.

According to Reuters, suing in Amarillo insured that the case would be heard by reputable conservative and former Christian activist U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk.

The government has responded that the drug’s approval was completely justified by the available data and that the challenge, which was made 22 years after the event, is far too late.

Since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned its historic 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling which had secured abortion rights globally, last year, medication abortion has attracted growing interest. Democratic President Joe Biden issued an executive order instructing federal organizations to increase access to medication abortion in light of the ruling.

Over half of the abortions performed in the United States are medication abortions, which involve the use of mifepristone in conjunction with misoprostol.

Activist organizations and service providers claimed they are ready for a variety of outcomes. People are being informed of their alternative choices for self-managed abortions and how, in some cases, they may still be allowed to import drugs from abroad, The Hill reported.

“Everybody’s kicking the tires on all of the options. None of which are great, because this is totally unprecedented,” said Kirsten Moore, the director of the Expanding Medication Abortion Access Project.

According to a Friday petition by 22 Republican attorneys general, including those from Texas and Ohio and led by Mississippi’s Lynn Fitch, the medicine had been wrongly licensed.

Additionally, they said that recent FDA initiatives to make it more available, including the agency’s 2021 policy permitting it to be supplied by mail as opposed to in person, would violate state laws that prohibit the medicine.

The 22 Democratic attorneys general, led by Letitia James of New York and included the AGs of Massachusetts and California, declared that the approval of mifepristone was “compatible with the broad medical consensus and backed by copious data,” Reuters reports. According to them, restricting access to the medication would either compel patients to undergo needless surgical abortions or bar them from getting an abortion at all.

On Friday, more outside parties filed papers, including a group of legal experts who supported the government and 67 Republican members of Congress, a coalition of pro-life organizations, including Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, who supported the plaintiffs.

Requests for comment from the FDA and the plaintiffs’ conservative legal team, Alliance Defending Freedom, were not immediately fulfilled.

The Texas action may be resolved swiftly after the plaintiffs urged Kacsmaryk to forgo a preliminary order hearing and proceed directly to trial in a filing on Friday.

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