WASHINGTON — In case you missed it, anti-abortion groups are not satisfied with overturning Roe v. Wade, and are trying to use the court system to dismantle sexual and reproductive health care nationwide. Yesterday, Rolling Stone senior writer Tessa Stuart detailed the alarming threat to nationwide access to medication abortion that’s flying under the radar. In a case filed in the Amarillo division of the Northern District of Texas — a division with just one judge, who happens to be appointed by former President Trump — anti-abortion groups are asking the court to end the FDA’s more than two decade old approval of mifepristone, the first of two drugs used in a medication abortion.
The case could result in a devastating nationwide ban on a safe, effective, common method of abortion–even in states where abortion access is protected.
This is just the latest attempt by anti-abortion and reproductive health groups to weaponize the federal courts to restrict health care access. Last year, for example, anti-abortion advocates filed a different case in the same judge’s court, this time targeting young people’s access to birth control and their right to privacy. Contrary to decades of precedent, the court declared unlawful the decades-old promise that young people who receive care through the Title X family planning program may do so confidentially. For more on the ongoing court cases related to sexual and reproductive health care, read this memo.
Stuart writes that the Trump-appointee hearing the case was most recently “deputy general counsel for a conservative Christian legal advocacy group like the one that filed the lawsuit [against the FDA]. If he agrees with their arguments — and there is a real chance he may agree with their arguments — he could issue an injunction that would stop the distribution of the abortion pill, even in states with strong abortion protections like Vermont, California, and New York.”
More from Stuart about the baseless claims in the lawsuit:
- “It claims that the statutory basis on which the FDA’s approval of Mifepristone was issued 22 years ago is invalid (an assertion both the Government Accountability Office and FDA have previously investigated and put to rest).”
- “It claims that an 1873 vice law that made it illegal to send “obscene, lewd or lascivious” material through the mail applies to abortion pills (before that law stopped being enforced decades ago, federal courts consistently ruled it doesn’t apply to lawful abortions).”
- “And it claims the drug’s original approval wasn’t supported by evidence of safety and efficacy — “which is just junk science,” says Carrie Flaxman, senior director of public policy litigation and law at the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.”
As Stuart makes clear, the practical effects of this case could be widespread and devastating:
“More than 3.7 million women have used Mifepristone, which is taken with its companion drug, Misoprostol, to terminate unwanted pregnancies, since the abortion pill became available in the United States more than two decades ago. Last year, more than half of documented abortions in America were done with help from the abortion pill. The pill’s ubiquity, its ability to be sent quickly and discreetly through the mail, and be taken within the privacy of one’s home, has made it a desirable option for anyone seeking to end an early pregnancy. For the women in the 14 states that have banned or severely restricted the practice since Roe v. Wade was overturned in June, it’s one of the last practical alternatives left.”
For more information or to speak with a Planned Parenthood representative about the consequences of this or other ongoing court cases threatening sexual and reproductive health care, please email [email protected].
Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable sexual and reproductive health care for all people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With more than 600 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect, and without judgment, striving to create equitable access to health care. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable education and information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives. Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization that supports the independently incorporated Planned Parenthood affiliates operating health centers across the U.S.