AUSTIN, Texas — A conservative federal judge in Amarillo heard arguments about medication abortion Wednesday, the drug mifepristone, which was approved by the FDA two decades ago.
The lawsuit accuses the FDA of rushing through the process and harming women. Pro-abortion activists argue a ruling in favor would undermine the federal government’s scientific oversight of prescription drugs. The lawsuit itself was filed in November. But it was just Monday night that the federal judge set it for 9 a.m. Wednesday morning in Amarillo. He heard arguments and now we wait for a ruling.
The plaintiff's attorneys admitted -- there is no precedent for the court to overturn the FDA's approval of a drug that has been on the market for years.
If the Trump-appointed judge rules with the plaintiffs, it could limit or stop the distribution of the drug even in states where abortion is legal.
“Now we're seeing those drugs trafficked illegally into our state. Right now, in Houston we see a lawsuit by a husband against three women because they helped his wife obtain an abortion,” said Amy O’Donnell with Texas Alliance For Life. “We're excited to see where that case goes, what we hear. The reality of it is they do harm women.”
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O’Donnell says studies in Finland show up to 40 percent of women who take abortion drugs have complications, but the National Institutes of Health says abortion pills have a two percent complication rate. First-trimester surgical abortions have a 1.3 percent complication rate.
Mifepristone is approved for use with a second drug up to 70 days into a pregnancy. It is not approved to treat an ectopic pregnancy, a dangerous condition in which the fertilized egg is outside of the uterus. Back in the early 2000s, the FDA put it through the accelerated approval process, but it took four years.
FDA lawyers and the drug manufacturer say the lawsuit would undermine the federal government's oversight of a science-based drug approval process. And – a senior member of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast said, “this has an impact not just in Texas where abortion is inaccessible but states but, in the states, where abortion remains like Michigan, like Illinois and California.”
Former state legislator Wendy Davis is now a part of planned parenthood gulf coast votes and says a ruling in favor would harm women.
“it should be a wakeup call and a true gut check for all of us that these anti-abortion zealots are not going to stop at anything.”
The ruling could come at any time, although if the judge rules in favor of the lawsuit, it’s expected that the FDA would file for an emergency stay.