Abortion Pill Explainer: What Happens After Conflicting Legal Rulings?

From NOTICE News Daily for April 11, 2023

On Friday, April 7, a conservative-leaning judge in Texas ruled that the abortion drug mifepristone was improperly approved by the Food and Drug Administration more than 20 years ago. Mifepristone is one of two drugs used for medically-induced abortions, and it’s used in more than half of all abortions in the U.S. But the Texas judge’s ban came within minutes of another court decision out of Washington state, where a different federal judge ordered that the drug be made available in 17 states, plus Washington, D.C.

Legal experts believe the contradictory decisions out of Texas and Washington will make their way to the Supreme Court, which will have to determine whether or not a ban on mifepristone is allowed to remain in place.

The lawsuit that led to the Texas judge’s ban, brought by a conservative Christian group, claims that mifepristone is unsafe, but according to the New York Times, the FDA and more than 100 scientific studies have concluded the drug is safe and effective. Legal observers worry the Texas judge’s decision to overrule the FDA could lead to political attacks on the ability to approve and regulate medications, especially for drugs used in controversial practices such as emergency contraception or gender-affirming care.

The Biden administration appealed the Texas’ judge’s decision within hours of the ruling, and a final resolution could take months or years before reaching the Supreme Court.