Attorneys general in 23 GOP-led states backed lawsuit seeking to block abortion pill
WASHINGTON. Attorneys general representing nearly two dozen Republican states are backing a lawsuit that would see abortion pills withdrawn from use across the United States after more than two decades, eliminating choice even in states where access to abortion remains legal.
The state of Missouri filed its own filing in the case on Friday, while Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch filed on behalf of her state, as well as 21 other states: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas . , Kentucky, Louisiana, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Wyoming.
“The serious nature of the FDA’s illegal actions and the agency’s decision to encourage individuals and government officials across the country to break the law contribute to broad relief,” the 22 Republican attorneys general wrote in a multi-state report.
“The FDA and the administration as a whole have no intention of respecting the Constitution, the Supreme Court, or the democratic process when it comes to abortion. The decisive action of this court is justified,” they added.
The Hippocratic Medicine Alliance v. FDA case was originally filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of Texas in mid-November by the Freedom Defense Alliance, an anti-abortion legal organization.
The lawsuit, on behalf of four anti-abortion medical organizations and four anti-abortion doctors, alleges that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration overstepped its authority when it approved mifepristone for abortion in 2000.
The prescription drug was originally approved for use up to seven weeks of pregnancy but is now approved up to 10 weeks. It is used as part of a two-drug regimen that includes misoprostol as the second drug.
The abortion pill, mifepristone, is federally legal, although several GOP states have laws restricting abortions to less than 10 weeks, causing a dispute between state law and the federal government’s jurisdiction over pharmaceutical drug approval.
If the judge doesn’t revoke the abortion pill altogether, the anti-abortion organizations’ lawsuit alleges that the dosage and prescribing process should go back to how it worked before 2016, when the FDA changed its approval.
Justice Department calls suit ‘unprecedented’
The U.S. Justice Department said in its court that the filing of the lawsuit by anti-abortion groups “is extraordinary and unprecedented.”
“Plaintiffs did not point to a single case, and the government was unable to find a single example where a court questioned the FDA’s determination of safety and efficacy and ordered the removal of a widely available FDA-approved drug from the market, much less an example with a two-decade delay,” lawyers for the U.S. Department of Justice wrote.
Republican attorneys general said in their Friday briefings that “while the FDA has the authority to evaluate new drugs for their safety and effectiveness, states have a primary responsibility to protect the health and well-being of their citizens.”
“Many states, including several amici here, have passed laws regulating the use of abortion drugs and taking into account their dangers,” they wrote.
“Such laws may include personal examination and drug dispensing requirements, eligibility requirements for prescribers, informed consent mandates, mail order bans, or some combination of these and other security restrictions.”
In their memo, the 22 attorneys general argued that the FDA’s approval of the abortion bill had two legal flaws.
First, it “contradicts the agency’s own rules” because the section in which the FDA first approved the drug, Subpart H, “does not allow the agency to green-light selective abortion on a large scale.”
Second, they wrote that allowing abortion drugs to be mailed directly contradicts federal law that prohibits “the use of the mail to send or receive abortion drugs, such as mifepristone.”
Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey wrote in a separate memo that he agreed with the arguments put forward in the original lawsuit and his fellow Republican attorneys general, but wanted to highlight facts “recently uncovered during the trial.”
The Missouri report argued that medical abortion, which has been used for more than two decades, is “much more dangerous than surgical abortion” and that “substantial information is missing that the drugs will have the expected effect.”
Access to abortion
Dr. Jamila Perritt, President and CEO of Physicians for Reproductive Health, said at a press briefing this week on the court case that abortion drugs are safe and effective and that “when access to abortion is difficult, we know it is means that abortion is being pushed further and further towards pregnancy as people try to overcome these barriers.”
According to Perritt, if the judge in the case overturned mifepristone, people in states where abortion is still legal could have access to misoprostol-only abortion because “there are approved misoprostol-only medical abortion regimens.”
Perrit added that “while it’s equally safe…the dosage and time to completion of an abortion varies unless mifepristone is added to the equation.”
Perritt noted that patients in legal states will also continue to have access to procedural abortion.
Reproductive health experts said the lawsuit was based on flawed evidence, anecdotal studies and anecdotes.
Dr. Iffat Abbasi Hoskins, president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, said in a written statement in January that “Limiting access to mifepristone hinders the ability of OB/GYNs and other clinicians to provide high-quality, evidence-based care. for their patients.”
“As of 2020, the continued use of mifepristone for abortion without requiring personal dispensing has been shown to be safe and effective,” she wrote when the FDA announced it would allow commercial pharmacies to write prescriptions for mifepristone.
A judge in the lawsuit, Trump-appointed Matthew Joseph Kaczmarik, could decide whether mifepristone should be taken off the market as early as this month.
Any decision is likely to be appealed to the conservative US Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit and could eventually end up in the US Supreme Court.
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