Today’s decision in the Texas federal court challenge to the abortion pill invalidates FDA approval of the drug after 23 years of its safe use. This will dramatically alter abortion access across the country. If not immediately blocked and permanently overturned, the ruling will be at least as damaging as the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned decades of abortion-rights precedent.
This ruling will have serious effects on access to critical health care not only for those seeking abortions but for the estimated one million people in this country who have miscarriages every year (www.pregnancyjusticeus.org). It will touch all U.S. lives, and have the most devastating impact on poor pregnant black and brown people, as well as those in rural areas, who have the least financial resources and ability to travel to receive abortion care.
More than half of all abortions are done via mifepristone along with a second medication, misoprostol. While it is possible to have a medication abortion using only the as-yet-unchallenged misoprostol, it has a lower success rate and is more painful for the patient, adding punishment and abuse to the individual seeking relief. Legal harassment is threatening reproductive choices across all states and the public can expect attacks on the second abortion pill as well.
The Trump-appointed federal judge Matthew Kacsmaryk purposely exploited confusion about procedural details in the FDA’s approval process to peddle the false narrative that the agency recklessly hastened review of mifepristone. The truth is that the FDA took more than four years to approve the drug and extensively examined its very minor risks. This is a drug that has been available for 23 years, is used widely and is, in fact, safer than Tylenol according to medical experts.
The federal court case was lodged by a group called Alliance Defending Freedom. This organization is designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center in part because it is attempting to eradicate the separation of church and state and use legal strategies to graft its version of conservative Christianity onto the legal profession and the culture at large. (Alliance members also claim that a “homosexual agenda” will destroy Christianity and society.) These plaintiffs handpicked the ultra-conservative Judge Kacsmaryk to oversee the case.
Attempts to undermine what should be the right to reproductive and bodily autonomy are an attack on all people’s healthcare needs. And opponents of reproductive justice won’t stop there. Also threatened are contraception, sex education, non-religious health care providers, and social services that are vital to safely bearing and raising children in marginalized communities. Reproductive justice also includes an end to forced sterilization, the right to gender-affirming care, support for LGBTQI+ families and children, and an end to immigration policies that separate families.
The National Mobilization for Reproductive Justice and its affiliates across the country vow to defend all forms of reproductive rights and bodily autonomy. See the Mobilization’s website, www.ReproJusticeNow.org, for information on meetings and activities, endorsers, resources and its full list of demands.