TX Lawsuit Gets Underway in Federal Court, Ruling Could Affect Fate of Abortion Pills Nationwide
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A federal judge is hearing arguments on Wednesday in a lawsuit that could force the Food and Drug Administration to withdraw chemical abortion pills from the market.
The hearing was first revealed by The Washington Post, which reported that U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, a Trump appointee, would delay putting it on the public docket to minimize threats and possible protests. He also asked the attorneys not to publicly discuss details of the plans, the newspaper reported.
This case follows the FDA's decision to expand access to the two-part drug regimen, allowing doctors to prescribe it via telehealth appointments for women to receive the abortion-inducing pills through the mail.
The Texas lawsuit claims mifepristone, the first of the two drugs taken to induce abortion, is not as safe as advertised and should not have received FDA approval back in 2000.
These chemical procedures currently account for more than 50% of all abortions in the United States. For many years, the FDA sought to expand access to the two-part at-home pill regimen even though a number of doctors and medical organizations have questioned its safety for more than two decades.
"From approval and then every time the FDA has loosened its restrictions, it has gone against its own rules to do so," Dr. Ingrid Skop, senior fellow and director of Medical Affairs for the Charlotte Lozier Institute, told CBN News earlier this month.
Dr. Skop said it was initially approved under a category called "subpart h" which is for drugs that treat life-threatening illnesses.
"Of course pregnancy in almost every case is not a life-threatening illness, and there already were surgical abortions that were available, so this did not add anything new," she explained. "In fact, studies since that time have shown us that women have four times as many complications after chemical abortions, so they added a drug that was subpar compared to what was already available."
The FDA first approved mifepristone to terminate a pregnancy through seven weeks gestation in 2000 and then extended it through ten weeks gestation in 2016. Skop notes a third of women who have chemical abortions are under 18, but she contends the FDA didn't conduct a study on pediatric populations during the approval process.
"The FDA's required to do pediatric studies but they just waived that requirement without explanation," she told CBN News.
The OB/GYN also argued women who take abortion-inducing pills are not adequately prepared for what comes next.
"This is a very difficult process for women, they bleed a lot, they essentially, it's like labor, they have a lot of pain," Skop explained. "Often when they deliver the pregnancy they will see their unborn or their child in the toilet and he's about at 8 weeks, he's about the size and shape of a gummy bear, he's clearly identifiable as a human being."
One in 20 women has a complication from chemical abortions, and the medical doctor said she treated one of these women just last month.
"In this woman's case she bled all the way back to Texas from California, bled for another two months, and then finally came to my emergency room where I was able to do a surgery and remove the dead tissue that had been sitting there for two months," Skop recalled.
In January, the FDA declared that abortion pills are safe enough to be prescribed through telehealth visits.
"The industry, as far as chemical abortion goes, tells them it's safer than Tylenol or a shot of penicillin, so when they do have a complication, if they're one in 20 women that need surgery, they are shocked and they feel that they've been misled," Skop said.
The FDA also cleared the way for retail pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens to provide the medication for the first time.
However, earlier this month, Walgreens announced it would not sell abortion pills in several states with abortion restrictions. The company's announcement came after Republican attorneys general in 20 states sent a letter to the pharmacy retailer saying the company could face legal challenges if it sold medical abortion pills in those states.
"We emphasize that it is our responsibility as State Attorneys General to uphold the law and protect the health, safety, and well-being of women and unborn children in our states. Part of that responsibility includes ensuring that companies like yours are fully informed of the law so that harm does not come to our citizens," the attorneys general wrote.
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