Texas Judge Hears Hours of Legal Sparring in Abortion Pill Case That Could Hinder Distribution Across US

Texas Abortion Pill Suit
Abortion-rights protesters outside Texas courthouse Wednesday.Getty

A federal judge in Texas has heard extensive legal arguments over a lawsuit that seeks to overturn FDA approval for a widely used abortion drug.

A federal judge in Texas said he will soon decide whether to issue a preliminary injunction ordering the FDA to withdraw its approval of a popular abortion drug.

A lawsuit filed in November seeks to revoke the Federal Drug Administration's approval of mifepristone, a drug used in medicinal abortions. The controversial suit could disrupt access nationwide, even in states where abortion remains legal.

Federal District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk of the Northern District of Texas, said Wednesday he would rule as soon as possible on a preliminary injunction that could take mifepristone off the market, at least temporarily.

Kacsmaryk, who was appointed by President Trump, heard more than four hours of cantankerous legal arguments from both sides. The suit, filed by a far-right anti-abortion group called the Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine, alleges the FDA erred in approving the drug in 2000 under a regulation that allows fast-tracked drug approvals for "serious or life-threatening illnesses."

Erik Baptist, a lawyer with the Alliance Defending Freedom, speaking on behalf of the plaintiffs, told the court, "The contrast between these illnesses and the FDA jamming pregnancy into ... FDA regulations could not be more stark."

Drugs are used in roughly 50% of the country's abortions, and the medications have rapidly become the source of legal and medical battles since the U.S. Supreme Court last year revoked federal protections for obtaining the medical procedures.

 A dose of mifepristone and a second drug, misoprostol, is 98% effective in ending pregnancies of up to 10 weeks, according to medical experts.

The Biden administration has said reversing a 23-year-old FDA approval would be unprecedented and cause physical harm.

"Removing access to mifepristone would cause worse health outcomes for patients who rely on the availability of mifepristone to safely and effectively terminate their pregnancies," Justice Department lawyers wrote. 

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