ACLU Comment on Court Decision Blocking Approval of Mifepristone, a Medication Used in Half of Abortions in the United States

Decision does not take effect for seven days

April 7, 2023 8:28 pm

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WASHINGTON — A federal district court in Texas issued a ruling today blocking the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval of mifepristone — a medication used in half the abortions in this country — after more than two decades of safe and effective use by millions of people in the United States for both abortion and miscarriage care. The decision does not take effect for seven days, during which time the government is expected to take an emergency appeal.

The case, Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine v. FDA, was brought by extreme anti-abortion groups to a hand-selected, radical Trump-appointed judge, Matthew Kacsmaryk, as part of a larger campaign to ban abortion entirely nationwide.

If this decision blocking the approval of mifepristone takes effect, it has the potential to impact people’s ability to access care in all 50 states, D.C., and U.S. territories; straining clinics and providers who are already grappling with the effects of Roe v. Wade being overturned and abortion banned in more than a dozen states.

In response to the ruling, Deirdre Schifeling, national political director of the ACLU, issued the following statement:

“This is a devastating decision that, if it takes effect, has the potential to compromise the ability of people to get abortion care in every state across the country. This case is further proof that anti-abortion groups and politicians never planned to stop at overturning Roe and letting each state decide whether women can control their own bodies. Getting a judge to withdraw approval of mifepristone is just the next step in their larger plan to ban abortion in every state. If this decision is allowed to stand it has frightening implications even beyond abortion and miscarriage care, including the ability of Americans to access any medication that some fringe group opposes on political grounds.

“If our opponents think we will stand by as they steamroll medical ethics and jeopardize patients’ health and safety with their ideological extremism, they should think again. We will use every tool at our disposal until everyone can access the safe and essential reproductive health care they need.”

For 23 years, mifepristone has offered an exceedingly safe and effective, FDA-approved means of ending a pregnancy, with study after study confirming its safety, efficacy, and its critical role in abortion and miscarriage care. This ruling will disproportionately harm people who already face severe health disparities and barriers to accessing health care — including people of color, people struggling to make ends meet, young people, and people living in rural areas.

Mifepristone is a critical component of abortion and miscarriage care, and has become more accessible in those states that have not banned abortion as a result of years of advocacy against medically unnecessary restrictions, including two cases filed by the ACLU on behalf of leading medical associations, physicians, and reproductive justice advocates. The cases — ACOG v. FDA and Chelius v. Becerra — ultimately led to the FDA allowing mifepristone to be prescribed by a clinician and mailed to patients or dispensed at pharmacies, rather than forcing patients to needlessly travel to a clinic or other health care provider to pick up the medication in person.


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