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Biden administration appeals Texas judge's abortion pill ruling

The Biden administration has officially appealed a lower court judge's decision to remove an abortion drug from the market.
Posted at 3:09 PM, Apr 10, 2023

The Biden administration has officially appealed a Texas judge's ruling that would force the nation's main abortion medication off the market. 

The appeal to the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit calls for a stay of U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk's 67-page ruling, which came down on Friday and said the Food and Drug Administration's 2000 decision to approve mifepristone is a violation of federal law. This came after an anti-abortion rights group claimed the FDA rushed the drug's approval, putting a patient's health at risk.

The appeal refutes that argument and argues that staying Kacsmaryk's decision will not impact the plaintiffs. Rather, it would keep the status quo.

"When mifepristone is used as FDA directs, serious adverse events are exceedingly rare, just as they are for many common drugs like ibuprofen," the appeal states. 

Mifepristone tablets

Access to abortion pill threatened amid competing rulings

A judge halted a 20-year-old FDA approval for the abortion pill mifepristone, putting access in limbo as the court offered a week for an appeal.


Kacsmaryk's ruling would go into effect on Friday if a stay is not granted before then. 

Restricting access to the drug while the case is heard would have a major impact on women nationwide.

The government notes that more than 5 million Americans have chosen to use mifepristone to safely end their pregnancies, and 53% of women obtaining abortions use this method. It's been proven safe to terminate pregnancies up to 10 weeks, and is also used in miscarriage management.

Mifepristone is the only drug specifically approved for abortion, taken with a second drug called misoprostol, which has other uses. Doctors nationwide have already begun administering misoprostol alone.

In an effort to halt Judge Kacsmaryk 's order, U.S. District Judge Thomas Rice, an Obama appointee in Washington state, issued a dueling ruling, saying "abortion restrictions vary state by state and plaintiffs allege harm not shared nationwide."

White House Official Jen Klein says the administration has no plans to tell Americans to ignore the Texas ruling.

"Our plan is to continue to appeal all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary ... We were prepared for this outcome, sadly, and we're prepared for a long legal battle if that's what we need to have," Klein said.

Iowa Republican Attorney General candidate Brenna Bird.

Iowa won't pay for rape victims' abortions or contraceptives

Under the previous AG, Iowa’s victim compensation fund also paid for the “morning after” pill, as well as other treatments to prevent pregnancy.


Texas Congressman Tony Gonzalez threatened Sunday to cut funding to the FDA should the administration ignore the ruling.

"Then we're going to have a problem, and it may come a point where House Republicans on the appropriation side have to defund FDA programs that don't make sense," Gonzalez said.

But the administration says it is concerned about what kind of precedent this sets for removing any drug from the shelves in the future.

"If one judge can remove one drug from the market with a decision like this, sort of what's next, you know? 'Open your medicine cabinet?'" Klein said.