Court to weigh bid to ban abortion pill in US

When their lawsuit against government drug regulators is debated, a Texas courtroom will serve as the newest battleground for US abortion rights, who are looking for a countrywide ban on a commonly used abortion medication.

Following the US Supreme Court’s decision to end the universal right to abortion last June, anti-abortion advocates are focusing on the prescription medication mifepristone in their fight for a complete ban on the procedure.

A drug used in almost 500,000 abortions annually, or 53% of all abortions in the US, is the target of the lawsuit against the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

While the FDA has never been challenged like this before on its approval of a drug that has proven safe and effective, the plaintiffs, a coalition of anti-abortion groups, believe they can win a national freeze on distribution of mifepristone.

Presiding over the case in federal court in Amarillo, Texas will be Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, a deeply conservative Christian with a personal history of opposition to abortion and a court record of favoring right-wing causes.

One component of a two-drug regimen used for medication abortion, mifepristone has been used by an estimated 5.6 million women to terminate pregnancies since its approval, according to the FDA.

It has a long safety record, and the FDA estimates 5.6 million Americans have used it to terminate pregnancies since it was approved.

But the Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian advocacy group, sued the FDA saying the approval of mifepristone “disavow(ed)” science, “ignored” potential health impacts and “disregarded” the complications that can arise with its use.

“The FDA failed America’s women and girls when it chose politics over science and approved chemical abortion drugs for use in the United States,” they said.

The FDA has urged the judge to reject the request.

“The public interest would be dramatically harmed by effectively withdrawing from the marketplace a safe and effective drug that has lawfully been on the market for 22 years,” it said.

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