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Biden administration appealing Texas judge's decision blocking abortion pill approval

The Biden administration is appealing the ruling by a federal judge in Texas that a common abortion pill was improperly approved more than two decades ago, which has put access to the drug at risk. 

A filing in the case states that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is appealing the ruling from U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Kacsmaryk, a Trump appointee, gave the government a week after his ruling to file their appeal and request emergency relief before it takes effect. 

An FDA spokesperson told The Hill in a statement that the abortion pill was approved “based on a comprehensive review of the scientific evidence available.” They said the agency stands behind its determination that the pill is safe and effective under the approved conditions for use.

The approval was based on the best available science and done in accordance with the laws that govern our work,” the spokesperson said.

Attorney General Merrick Garland denounced the decision in a statement, saying the Justice Department (DOJ) strongly disagrees and plans to appeal and seek a stay on the ruling. 

“Today’s decision overturns the FDA’s expert judgment, rendered over two decades ago, that mifepristone is safe and effective. The Department will continue to defend the FDA’s decision,” Garland said. 

He said the DOJ is also reviewing another ruling from a federal judge in Washington state that prevents the FDA from “altering the status quo and rights as it relates to the availability of Mifepristone,” the abortion pill, in 17 states and Washington, D.C. 

The conflicting rulings could lead to a higher court, and perhaps eventually the Supreme Court, stepping in. 

Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra said in a statement that the decision is a “regressive ruling” from one court in just one state that could have implications across the country.

“We will vigorously fight this unprecedented decision in court. We have appealed the decision and will seek a stay,” he said.

He noted that some medical providers prescribe mifepristone for managing miscarriages, which can be “one of the most difficult times in a women’s life.”

“Today’s decision jeopardizes the health of women across the country,” he said. “It undermines our nation’s entire system of drug approval. It opens the door for courts to overturn FDA’s evidence-based decisions for purely political or ideological reasons.”

President Biden said in a statement that his administration will fight the Texas ruling. He said he and Vice President Harris will “continue to lead the fight” to protect abortion rights and allow women to make their own medical decisions. 

“But let’s be clear – the only way to stop those who are committed to taking away women’s rights and freedoms in every state is to elect a Congress who will pass a law restoring Roe versus Wade,” he said.

Most abortions in the United States happen through a pill instead of a procedure. Mifepristone is one of two drugs used for medical abortion in the country.

Updated at 9:56 a.m.

Source: The Hill

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