Advocacy organizations and medical groups criticized a federal ruling that could prevent access to an abortion pill, arguing that it threatens access to safe health care.
The statements came after a federal judge in Texas ruled on Friday that the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval of mifepristone more than two decades ago was improperly rushed and allowed an unsafe drug regimen to reach the market. U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk granted the federal government a week to appeal the ruling and seek emergency relief before it goes into effect.
The FDA filed its appeal to the conservative-leaning 5th Circuit Court of Appeals shortly after the ruling on Friday night.
Planned Parenthood President and CEO Alexis Johnson slammed the ruling as an “outrage” in a statement, saying it “exposes the weaponization of our judicial system to further restrict abortion nationwide.”
“We should all be enraged that one judge can unilaterally reject medical evidence and overrule the FDA’s approval of a medication that has been safely and effectively used for more than two decades,” Johnson said. “This decision could threaten the FDA’s role in this country’s public health system, and — if allowed to stand — will have broad and unprecedented consequences that reach far beyond abortion.”
Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equity — an organization that advocates for reproductive health care — said in a post on its website that the case is the “latest attempt by extremists to control people’s bodies and further restrict healthcare options.”
Kimberly Inez McGuire, the executive director of the group, said in a statement that the ruling is bringing “more confusion than clarity.”
“People will always need abortions. People will always have abortions,” McGuire said. “Abortion pills are safe and effective.”
“Our fight is not over,” she continued. “We will continue to advocate for everyone to have access to the abortion care method that best suits them without stigma, political interference, or risk of criminalization.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics also weighed in, tweeting that the ruling would “disadvantage” adolescents and undermine the FDA’s “science-based decision-making process” while reproductive health care is already at risk.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) warned that the ruling could impact people’s ability to access abortion in the entire country and put additional pressure on clinics and medical providers in the aftermath of Roe v. Wade being overturned.
Deirdre Schifeling, ACLU’s national political director, said the ruling could have implications beyond abortion and miscarriage care if it stands, leading to “some fringe group” being able to prevent access to a certain medication on political grounds.
“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,” she said.
Another ruling handed down separately from the Eastern District of Washington prevented the FDA from “altering the status quo and rights as it relates to the availability of Mifepristone” in 17 states and Washington, D.C.