Hearing set in case that seeks to ban abortion pill nationwide

An anti-abortion rights group questions the safety of mifepristone and is asking for a judge to issue a nationwide injunction.
Posted at 11:56 AM, Mar 14, 2023

A Texas judge will hear arguments Wednesday in a lawsuit that could result in the ban of mifepristone, which is used for medical abortions nationwide. 

The lawsuit, filed by anti-abortion rights group Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine, claims the Food and Drug Administration wrongly approved mifepristone for use more than 23 years ago.

The group contends that the drug puts a patient's health at risk. 

Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine is seeking a preliminary injunction that would stop clinicians from prescribing the drug. An injunction would have an immediate effect across the country as more than half of all known abortions are medical abortions.

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The FDA has defended mifepristone's safety, claiming its initial approval is backed up by years of research that shows it's a safe and effective way to have an abortion. 

The agency has also come out strongly against an injunction, which it argues would change the status quo. 

Mifepristone is typically prescribed with another medicine called misoprostol. The drugs are approved to end a pregnancy through 10 weeks of gestation.

There's concern that a ruling against the FDA could cause women to seek the drug in ways that are not approved. The FDA currently warns against purchasing mifepristone online or getting it from another country. The agency notes that it can't ensure the safety or effectiveness of those medications. 

No matter how the Trump-appointed judge rules, the case will likely be appealed to the 5th Circuit in New Orleans, which leans conservative. It features 12 judges who were appointed by Republican presidents. The remaining four judges were appointed by Democratic presidents. 

There's a possibility that the case could reach the U.S. Supreme Court. However, the court would have to agree to hear it once an appeal is filed. 

The lawsuit is being heard at a time when abortion rights are being rolled back across the country. Following the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, numerous Republican-led states have restricted access to abortions. 

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