The Abortion Pill Court Case We’re All Waiting For

Support for abortion rights is the highest it’s been in over 20 years. A Trump-appointed judge could eliminate access to the medication used in over half of U.S. abortions.

Pro-abortion protesters march on June 24, 2022, in Austin, Texas—the day the Supreme Court overturned the 49-year-old legal precedent that guaranteed the right to an abortion. (Jabin Botsford / The Washington Post via Getty Images)

A Trump-appointed federal district court judge in Texas will soon rule in a case that could have drastic consequences for abortion access and miscarriage care nationwide. 

The lawsuit, led by conservative anti-abortion legal organization, Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) on behalf of four anti-abortion medical organizations and several doctors, challenges the FDA’s approval of the medication mifepristone—which, together with the drug misoprostol, is used for medication abortions.

Mifepristone has been used in the U.S. for over two decades—and even longer in Europe and the rest of the world—to end early pregnancies, as well as manage miscarriages.

The lawsuit claims that the FDA did not have sufficient proof of mifepristone’s safety—and that the FDA unlawfully fast-tracked its approval—despite the fact that there is extensive evidence showing that abortion pills are safe and effective.

Notably, the ADF chose to file the case in the Amarillo Division of the Northern District of Texas—where it was assigned to Trump-appointed Judge Matthew J. Kacsmaryk, who previously served as deputy general counsel for Christian conservative legal organization First Liberty Institute. Kacsmaryk has also previously publicly expressed opposition to abortion, birth control, no-fault divorce and same-sex marriage, among other things, as Ms. contributing editor Carrie Baker previously reported

“He is an anti-LGBT activist and culture warrior who does not respect the equal dignity of all people,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) during his Senate confirmation hearing, reading from a letter of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “His record reveals a hostility to LGBT equality and to women’s health, and he would not be able to rule fairly and impartially in cases involving those issues.”

The ADF also previously represented the state of Mississippi in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization—the case which led the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade

A large majority of Americans support abortion access, and dissatisfaction with abortion policy is the highest it’s been in over 20 years.

The decision on this lawsuit could result in a nationwide ban on mifepristone—even in states where abortion is legal. Currently, medication abortion accounts for over half of all abortions in the U.S. While a misoprostol-only abortion is also an option, studies show that it can be less effective.

The outcome of the lawsuit could also have far-reaching impact beyond abortion. Because mifepristone blocks the action of the hormone progesterone, which is necessary to sustain a pregnancy, it can also be used as a treatment for progesterone-dependent cancers and other life-threatening conditions that disproportionately affect women. 

You can be sure that Ms. is closely monitoring the outcome of this crucial case. 

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Katherine Spillar is the executive director of Feminist Majority Foundation and executive editor of Ms., where she oversees editorial content and the Ms. in the Classroom program.