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US AGs weigh in on court battle over access to abortion medicines

A US lawsuit seeking a court order blocking nationwide access to a drug used in medication abortion created a furore last week, with scores of state Attorneys-General weighing in on the issue: Republicans supporting the lawsuit and Democrats warning of “devastating consequences” if it succeeds.

In the lawsuit, filed last year in Texas, anti-abortion groups, including the Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine, claimed the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) used an improper process to approve the drug mifepristone in 2000, and did not adequately consider its safety.

Suing in Amarillo, Texas ensured that the case would go before District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, a reliable conservative and former Christian activist, Reuters reports.

The government has countered that the drug’s approval was fully supported by evidence, and that the challenge, 22 years after the fact, comes much too late.

Medication abortion has drawn increasing attention since the US Supreme Court’s reversal last year of its landmark 1973 Roe v Wade ruling, which had guaranteed abortion rights nationwide.

President Joe Biden directed federal agencies to expand access to medication abortion in response to the decision.

Mifepristone is used in combination with another drug, misoprostol, for medication abortion, which accounts for more than half of all American abortions.

Last week’s filing by 22 Republican Attorneys-General agreed with the plaintiffs that the drug had been improperly approved. They also said some recent FDA efforts to make it more accessible, including the agency’s 2021 policy allowing it to be dispensed by mail rather than in person, could violate state laws restricting the drug.

“By obstructing the judgments of elected representatives, the agency has undermined the public interest,” they said.

They said mifepristone’s approval was “consistent with the overwhelming medical consensus and supported by voluminous evidence”, and that ending access to the drug would force patients to have unnecessary surgical abortions or prevent them from accessing abortion altogether.

The lawsuit could move quickly, as the plaintiffs in a filing on Friday asked Kacsmaryk to skip a hearing on a preliminary order and instead go straight to trial.

 

Reuters article – U.S. states, others weigh in on court battle over abortion pill (Open access)

 

See more from MedicalBrief archives:

 

Roe vs Wade: US abortion rights’ ruling could hurt women worldwide

 

Biden order eases access to abortion, protects clinics and physicians

 

Political, not legal, threat from US abortion row

 

 

 

 

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