Vital abortion pill could be banned across the US

Abortion rights protestors hold up a sign saying "Forward Together - Abortion Justice"
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On 1 March, the White House expressed concern that a Texas judge could impose what it called a “devastating” nationwide ban on a drug used for more than half of US abortions. Mifepristone, also known as RU-486, is one component of a two-drug regimen used for medical abortions. It’s been on the market in the United States for more than 20 years.

In a lawsuit filed in November with a Texas judge appointed by former Republican president Donald Trump, an alliance of anti-abortion groups claims the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) should never have approved the “dangerous” drug. Attorneys for the Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian legal advocacy group, asked the judge to impose an immediate injunction withdrawing mifepristone from the list of FDA-approved drugs.

The FDA urged the judge to reject the request. US District Court Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk had given parties to the federal suit until February 24 to file briefs, and so his ruling could now come at any time.

‘Unprecedented’

White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters

The decision would be unprecedented, as you know, and devastating to women. And we may find ourselves in uncharted territory.

We’re closely working with the Justice Department and (the Department of Health and Human Services) on this, on how to be prepared for any range of outcomes.

The Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive health research group, found that medication abortions account for 54% of all abortions in the US.

Read on...

NPR reported that doctors in Texas are afraid to even mention the word ‘abortion’:

Many doctors in Texas who treat pregnant patients are extremely scared, especially of language in one of the state’s abortion bans that allows people to take civil action against anyone who “aids or abets” abortion.

Almost 200 organisations and experts have signed an open letter urging the United Nations (UN) to intervene over the deterioration of abortion rights in the US. Christine Ryan, legal director of the Global Justice Center, told the Guardian:

The US must be castigated on the world stage for its treatment of women, girls, and others who can become pregnant – the scale and intensity of human rights violations that the US is inflicting on its population are near unfathomable at this point.

Ryan also said:

It has become almost tragically ironic that the US government uses the language of human rights to condemn state abuses against citizens of other countries, be that in Iran, or Belarus. These norms must be deployed against the state here at home as well. And for too long, the US has been able to avoid that type of international scrutiny.

Decision to come

This all comes in the context of the 2022 Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v Wade. As the Canary’s Eliza Egret explained:

The Supreme Court’s decision means that there is no constitutional right to abortion. Some states have trigger laws which mean that the reversal can take immediate effect…This has happened in a country with a privatised healthcare system so bad that it’s only the rich who get the care they need – a nation where employers don’t even have to give mandatory paid maternity leave, where childcare costs are soaring, and where there are housing shortages.

Around 15 US states have imposed restrictions on abortion since the Supreme Court overturned the constitutional right to an abortion. This has included banning sales of abortion pills. However, people who live in those states can still buy the pill in neighbouring states. For many, this is an easier option than a surgical abortion.

Ryan urged Joe Biden’s administration to act swiftly:

We’ve seen consistent lip service from the Biden-Harris administration”, but not enough action…There has been an absolute calamity in terms of public health, human rights, and the response has been middling to poor.

Featured image by Gayatri Malhotra/Unsplash

Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse

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  • Show Comments
    1. It seems that the USA is learning from the examples of Nicaragua and the Occupied Palestinian Territories of West Bank and Gaza. The former, which is under the allegedly socialist government of Daniel Ortega, made abortion illegal in 2006; the latter, under Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, effectively banned the procedure in 2004. The consequences for women, obviously, have been horrific.

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