Medication Abortion Access Threatened by Texas Judge – NOW led the Effort to Bring Medication Abortion to the U.S. – Help Us Fight This
In less than two weeks, there could well be no access to one of the safest methods of abortion available, medication abortion, now used in a majority of abortions in the U.S. – and widely used around the world. An anti-abortion organization, Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine, filed a lawsuit in November demanding that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) withdraw their approval of medication abortion. The judge has set a briefing deadline for February 24th.
The U.S. District Court judge in this case is a Trump-appointed religious extremist, Matthew Kacsmaryk, who has a long record of hostility to LGBTQIA+ and women’s rights, according to the Alliance for Justice. Kacsmaryk has opposed efforts to protect LGBTQIA+ rights, including marriage equality, and has vigorously opposed policies that support women’s reproductive rights. He has a record as a judge in ruling against a range of fundamental rights.
Given the extremist record of Judge Kacsmaryk it is a near certainty that the injunction will be granted. His actions would create an emergency for more than 65 million persons of child-bearing age and for their families.
The plaintiffs, a collection of conservative Christian and anti-abortion medical professionals, are asking for preliminary and permanent injunctions ordering the FDA to withdraw mifepristone and misoprostol, the two-step drug combination to end an early pregnancy, and to withdraw the agency’s actions to deregulate medication abortion. If an injunction is granted, access to medication abortion – currently the best access to abortion in states that restrict or prohibit abortion — would halt nationwide.
Plaintiffs claim, with no evidence, that medication abortion is unsafe and with antiabortion allies have carried out an extensive campaign of lies about the drugs involved in medication abortion. In fact, the safety record indicates that complications are extremely rare. In the 1990’s after careful scientific review, the FDA found medication abortion to be safe and effective and approved it in 2000. Medication abortion has been in use in France since 1988 and is now used by most European nations and a growing list of other countries around the world.
In recent months, the Biden Administration has taken a series of actions to expand access to medication abortion: no longer requiring an in-person receipt of a prescription, affirming that telehealth consultations may be used and that the U.S. Postal Service may deliver medication abortion drugs to any state, regardless of state laws prohibiting medication abortion. Additionally, pharmacy chains Walgreens and CVS, after being certified, will offer medication abortion.
NOW’s History with Medication Abortion
In 1967, NOW testified at a well-attended FDA hearing about the critical importance of approving medication abortion for use in this country. The hearing was held in a large tent at a remote and unannounced location, with scores of security personnel. The threat of anti-abortion extremists then was serious – as it is now. NOW Former President Ellie Smeal began the effort in 1989 to bring medication abortion from France – then called RU-486 – to the U.S.
In 1990, Smeal and former NOW Vice President Patricia Ireland, with ten scientists and feminist leaders, met with French and German companies involved with the license for RU-486, urging the introduction of medication abortion in the U.S. They brought with them 115,530 petitions supporting the introduction of the drugs in the United States.
As mentioned, the FDA approved the use of mifepristone and misoprostol for early abortion in 2000. Americans have had more than 20 years of experience using this highly safe and effective way of ending pregnancy. Over those years, NOW leaders have continued to work for expanding access to medication abortion. But abortion rights opponents have never let up and now that they control a significant number of federal judgeships are proceeding to dismantle every possible avenue for persons to obtain abortion care.
WE INTEND TO KEEP WORKING TO MAKE CERTAIN THAT MEDICATION ABORTION IS AVAILABLE EVERYWHERE.
- Send a text message to President Biden asking him to take emergency action to protect medication abortion, The White House
- Send a message to members of your Congressional delegation, alerting them to this threat, asking them to act to protect access.
- Ask senators to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act – the U.S. Capitol switchboard is 202-224-3121 or send a message via the senators’ websites.
- Send the same message to your U.S. representative.
- Local and state NOW leaders can hold a press conference denouncing the ruling on Feb. 24; we will send sample statements and talking points.
- Organize a protest rally or demonstration at a local courthouse or other public gathering place.
- Alert NOW allies in your community about this case and the threat to medication abortion.
- Use this opportunity to sign up new NOW members.
PLEASE TAKE ACTION NOW AND THANKS FOR ALL THAT YOU DO FOR WOMEN.