Judge sympathizes with abortion pill challenge in landmark Texas hearing

A judge appointed by former President Donald Trump heard arguments Wednesday in a case aimed at banning abortion drugs that have been widely used by women in the United States for two decades.

During the four-hour hearing, U.S. District Judge Matthew Koksmark appeared sympathetic to the arguments of lawyers for a coalition of anti-abortion groups called the Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine. He had a motive in filing the case. Revocation of Food and Drug Administration approval Of the pills used to terminate pregnancy, which causes More than half of abortions in the United States

An application on behalf of the plaintiffs was under discussion. For a preliminary injunction Pulling mifepristone — one of the pills in the standard two-drug regimen — off the market nationwide while the case is pending.

Since Roe v. Wade was overturned Medicines used in abortion have become increasingly important in the battles over abortion rights. If Kacsmaryk were to order a ban on mifepristone, it would further restrict abortion access across the United States.

But at Wednesday’s hearing, lawyers for both sides focused mostly on the FDA’s regulatory and approval process and did not address abortion access or when life begins.

Kacsmaryk seemed to offer plaintiffs more of a window than the defense to explain and explain their arguments, particularly those related to the FDA’s approval process and the scope of the potential injunction.

But the judge blocked lawyers for the Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine when he asked if they could provide another example of a drug with a long-established approval that had been pulled from the shelves.

“No, I can’t,” replied Eric Baptiste. Senior attorney at the conservative Christian legal group Alliance Defending Freedom.

As for why legal challenges followed the drug’s approval, Baptiste blamed the FDA, saying the agency took 14 years to respond to citizen petitions raising concerns about mifepristone. happened

“The court’s interest is in preventing dangerous drugs from entering the marketplace,” Baptiste said. “Any relief you give must be complete. There is no limit to the harm of chemical drugs.”

In response, Justice Department attorney Julie Strauss-Harris said it would be “unprecedented” to remove a drug that has been used safely for 20 years.

“It’s important to step back and think about what the agency did here,” Harris said. “The FDA didn’t require anyone to take it — they just said it was safe and effective.”

Jessica Ellsworth, who represents drugmaker Danco Laboratories, added that withdrawing approval for mifepristone would damage the public’s and the pharmaceutical industry’s trust in the FDA.

“This injunction is not about maintaining the status quo,” he said. “They want to maintain the status quo.”

Kacsmaryk praised both sides for presenting strong cases and said they would “decide as soon as possible.”

Abortion clinics set to lose access to mifepristone

Wendy Davis, senior adviser to Planned Parenthood Texas Votes, said the group is not optimistic based on the judge’s background.

“I think we can expect the worst, and I think we need to be prepared for that,” Davis said.

Before Trump selected Coxmark as a judge, he represented a conservative Christian group called the First Liberty Institute, which challenged a section of the Affordable Care Act that required employers to pay their workers. was required to cover birth control.

After a federal judge issued an injunction against that part of the law, Koksmark said it was a “Important victoryAs the group sought to “defend unborn human life.”

There was commotion outside the court on Wednesday. Abortion rights protesters and anti-abortion advocates lined up before sunrise to secure seats in the courtroom.

Among them was Nick Belcher of Amarillo and his 14-year-old daughter Julianne. Both said they hoped the judge would rule in favor of banning the drug.

“I’m excited about this and the opportunities that exist to create a culture of life in America,” Belcher said.

There was a hearing. Latest development In a lawsuit filed against the FDA in November.

In previous court filings and in its statements on Wednesday, the Biden administration argued that the Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine lacked standing to bring the lawsuit. It states that the FDA’s approval of mifepristone is supported by extensive scientific evidence and that taking the drug off the market would lead to adverse health outcomes for people seeking abortions.

The plaintiffs have argued that mifepristone is dangerous, that the FDA did not adequately assess its safety and that the agency should not have made the abortion pill accessible via telehealth during the pandemic.

The FDA approved mifepristone in 2000. Abortion providers administer the drug — which blocks the hormone progesterone — in combination with misoprostol, which induces contractions.

Research has proven. That procedure has a 0.4 percent risk of major complications.

Abortion providers said that if access to mifepristone was cut off, many clinics would administer their own off-label misoprostol.

“People in the United States deserve the most accurate, effective medicine proven by clinical evidence, and mifepristone certainly is,” said Melissa Grant, chief operating officer of Carafem, an online abortion provider that ships abortion pills by mail. But it is.” In 17 states “Together, mifepristone and misoprostol complement each other exceptionally well and are the best and most effective medical termination of early pregnancy.”

According to one, misoprostol is safe to take on its own. 2019 study, although it can cause more uncomfortable side effects, such as severe nausea, diarrhea, chills, vomiting or pain. The drug is slightly less effective than the two-drug combination. Success rate as usually 80% to 95%compared to Up to 99.6% for the duo.

Meryl Hoffman, founder and CEO of Choices Women’s Medical Center in New York City, said before the hearing that the case shows that even state-level protections are not enough to guarantee access to abortion.

“Everybody was saying, ‘Well, New York is safe.’ And as far as I am concerned, there is no safe space for women and girls in this country anymore.” “Maybe it will wake people up.”

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