No ruling on abortion pill ban in US

A protester holds a “abortion is health care” sign during the Women’s March protest outside the federal courthouse in Amarillo, Texas on March 15, 2023. – Reuters

AMARILLO: A US judge in Texas on Wednesday heard more than four hours of arguments on a request by anti-abortion groups to ban the sale of abortion pills. Abortion pill mifepristone across the country, even in states where abortion is legal, as they challenge federal regulatory approval granted more than two decades ago.

The Texas-based Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine and other groups asked U.S. District Judge Matthew Kocksmark during a hearing in Amarillo for a preliminary injunction to halt sales of the drug while their lawsuit proceeds.

The judge did not issue an immediate decision but could issue a decision at any time. Coxmark’s ruling in the case is likely to be immediately appealed by the losing side to the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, with the US Supreme Court taking the possible next step.

Coxmark said the court would issue an order and opinion as soon as possible.

Anti-abortion groups filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in November, saying the agency used malpractice in approving mifepristone in 2000 and allowing girls under 18 to terminate pregnancies. He did not consider the safety of the medicine properly. Treatment AbortionWith mifepristone as part of the regimen, more than half of all American abortions occur.

President Joe Biden’s administration has responded to the lawsuit, saying the drug’s approval is well-supported by science and that the challenge comes too late.

It is shaping up to be the most consequential abortion case since the conservative-majority U.S. Supreme Court last year overturned its landmark 1973 Roe v Wade decision that struck down the constitutionality of abortion. The right was recognized. According to the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that supports abortion rights, 12 of the 50 states now ban abortion outright, while others ban it after a certain period of pregnancy.

Abortion Rights advocates protested outside the courthouse on Wednesday morning, with one dressed as a kangaroo and carrying a bag, suggesting the hearing was a “kangaroo court”.

Coxmark tried to keep news of the hearing from becoming public as much as possible by delaying the posting of notices of when the court would appear and asking lawyers to keep it confidential. The judge cited death threats in court during the trial and a desire to avoid harassment and disruption. Many media organizations objected to this unusual move.

Mifepristone is available generically and under the brand name Mifeprex. Used in combination with another drug called misoprostol, it is approved to terminate a pregnancy within the first 10 weeks of pregnancy. The FDA said in January that the government would allow mifepristone to be dispensed in retail pharmacies for the first time.

By filing the case in Amarillo, where the alliance was incorporated just three months ago, the plaintiffs ensured the case would go before Coxmark, a Republican appointee to the bench by former President Donald Trump. He is a former Christian activist. His courthouse has become a favorite spot for Republicans seeking to challenge aspects of Democrat Biden’s agenda.

The 5th Circuit also has a conservative reputation, with more than two-thirds of its judges appointed by Republican presidents. The Supreme Court has a 6-3 conservative majority.

The FDA said in a January court filing that removing mifepristone from the market would “dramatically harm the public interest,” forcing women to undergo unnecessary surgical abortions and overburdening women. Waiting times at clinics will increase dramatically.

Major medical organizations, including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, have said on behalf of the FDA that mifepristone “has been well studied and is conclusively safe.”

Mifepristone is also the subject of lawsuits in West Virginia and North Carolina arguing that state restrictions conflict with federal law seeking to expand access to the drug, and a lawsuit by Democratic state attorneys general. The federal government is trying to remove restrictions on how it can be distributed.

The Texas case is the most far-reaching of any lawsuit.

Coxmark is also presiding over a pending lawsuit accusing media companies, including Reuters, of violating federal antitrust laws by colluding with tech companies to censor information about COVID-19. A Reuters spokesperson has denied the allegations.

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