Do courts have authority to suspend abortion medication?
Legal scholars doubt the Texas federal judge who will rule on an abortion pill lawsuit has the authority to supersede the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s approval process, States Newsroom National Reproductive Rights Reporter Sofia Resnick reported. If U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk does issue a wide ruling, the decision would be unprecedented.
“What this case is doing is only increasing the politicization of mifepristone and abortion, as well as the entire FDA approval process, and [it’s] calling into question the impartiality and the legitimacy of our court system, as well as our FDA approval process,” Georgia State University law professor Allison M. Whelan told States Newsroom.
I’ve explained this before, but it bears repeating: Medication abortion is a two-drug regimen, mifepristone and misoprostol, the most common form of abortion care in the country, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive health research organization.The FDA approved mifepristone over two decades ago and it has a safe and effective track record, with few deaths. If Kacsmaryk, who has a history of anti-LGBTQ sentiments and recently limited contraception access for minors in Texas, rules in favor of the plaintiffs, the agency could use its discretion regarding enforcement and withhold civil or criminal actions against a company that sells mifepristone, according to Sofia’s story. (Misoprostol is less-regulated, because it also treats ulcers.)
Last week, Kacsmaryk questioned an argument from Erik Baptist, senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, which is representing the anti-abortion rights plaintiffs.
According to the court transcript, Baptist argued that Kacsmaryk has the authority to order the FDA to withdraw or suspend approval of the drug.
“And explain to me your argument on why this Court has that sweeping authority,” Kacsmaryk said.
Baptist said that the court has the power to “enjoin and take whatever action to prevent harm.”
Regardless of the ruling, the outcome will cause confusion for people seeking to terminate pregnancies amid the flurry of anti-abortion laws across the country.