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The marketing authorization for an abortion pill was withdrawn on Friday in the United States by a federal judge in Texas. A decision that will not apply for a week, giving the federal government time to appeal.
Another resounding victory for opponents of abortion in the United States. A federal judge withdrew, Friday, April 7, the marketing authorization of an abortion pill approved for more than 20 years and used each year by half a million American women.
President Joe Biden said he was determined to “fight” the move, calling it an “unprecedented attempt to deprive women of fundamental freedoms”.
Ten months after the Supreme Court’s historic judgment giving each American state the freedom to ban pregnancy terminations on its soil, magistrate Matthew Kacsmaryk, known for his ultra-conservative views, handed down, from Texas, a decision intended to apply to the whole country.
At the same time, one of his colleagues, located in the State of Washington, however judged that the marketing authorization for mifepristone (RU 486), which is used in combination with another cachet, could not be withdrawn in the 17 Democratic states that had seized it.
It will therefore quickly be up to the very conservative Supreme Court of the United States, profoundly overhauled by former Republican President Donald Trump, to clarify the situation.
The Ministry of Justice will appeal
Judge Kacsmaryk’s decision will not apply for a week anyway, the magistrate having chosen to give the federal government time to appeal. Which shouldn’t take long.
“The Department of Justice strongly disagrees” with the decision, “it will appeal (…) and seek a stay in the meantime,” said Minister Merrick Garland in a statement.
In his 67-page judgment, Judge Kacsmaryk validates most of the arguments contained in the complaint filed in November by a coalition of doctors and organizations hostile to abortion against the American Medicines Agency (FDA).
Like them, he resumes studies on the risks attributed to the abortion pill, although they are considered negligible by the majority of the scientific community. He also accuses the FDA of failing to follow its procedures in order to meet a political objective.
A “threat” to “women’s rights across the country”, according to Kamala Harris
“This is unprecedented and deeply damaging,” said the powerful family planning organization Planned Parenthood, which runs many abortion clinics in the country.
“We should all be outraged that a judge could unilaterally reject medical evidence” to contradict the FDA, added its president Alexis McGill Johnson, stressing that this decision could have consequences “far beyond abortion”.
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Democratic Vice President Kamala Harris also slammed “an unprecedented decision that threatens women’s rights across the country” and worried about the consequences for other cancer or diabetes drugs.
The elected Democrats in Congress have for their part focused their criticism on Judge Kacsmaryk: an “extremist judge” for their former leader in the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, a “rogue judge” for his successor, Hakeem Jeffries.
Misoprostol, an alternative
On Friday, the SBA Prolife America group, which opposes abortion, hailed “a victory for the health and safety of women and girls”.
Even if justice ultimately suspended the FDA’s authorization, it would probably take several months before its decision applies. According to health law experts, the drug regulator must follow a strict procedure before withdrawing the authorization of a product.
Women and doctors could also fall back on another pill, misoprostol, the use of which is combined today with mifepristone for greater efficiency and less pain.
“We will not let this unfair decision prevent access to abortion pills” which, by “alternative routes”, can “always arrive in your mailboxes”, has already indicated Elisa Wells, founder of the network. Plan C information on abortion pills.