The Women’s Bar Association of the District of Columbia (WBA) vehemently disagrees with the decision by U.S. District Court Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk (N. District Texas) on April 7, 2023 in the case Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine v. FDA (Alliance) which granted a preliminary injunction against the use and dissemination of mifepristone, one of the two drugs used in medication abortions and an important tool for facilitating and easing miscarriage in early pregnancy loss. The order stayed the decision for seven days to allow the FDA to appeal. Under this ruling, mifepristone will be banned nationwide, even in states where abortion is legal. The impact of this decision is extremely wide-reaching and will be devastating to pregnant people and their health, and will limit medical options to manage pregnancy loss.
The judge’s decision in this case revoked the FDA approval of mifepristone, a drug that was approved by the FDA in 2000, more than twenty-two years ago. In studies at that time and since then, mifepristone has been found to be safe and effective and its use has been endorsed by many medical associations. The other drug used in medication abortions and to facilitate and ease miscarriage in early pregnancy loss, misoprostol, is still legal and can be used on its own but studies show it is less effective than the two-step regimen, and often causes more cramping and bleeding. Medication abortions now account for more than half of all abortions (54%) in the United States and are preferred by many patients.
Currently, more than 24.5 million people who can become pregnant are living in states with abortion bans. As a consequence of Judge Kacsmaryk’s decision, that number increased overnight to more than 64.5 million, a devastating increase. People in every state in the country will be affected by this harmful decision.
As we stated in our response to the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs, we believe that the Dobbs decision and now the district court’s decision in Alliance will have monumental adverse consequences for countless individuals and their families. Pregnant people will have to go to much greater lengths to gain access to abortion and reproductive care. Because some courts and state legislatures are constricting access to reproductive care, pregnant people and their families will have a much harder time exercising their rights to choose when and whether to have a child. People of color and those struggling to make ends meet will be even more disproportionately affected. (See WBA’s Joint Statement Condemning the U.S. Supreme Court Decision and Underlying Reasoning in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health).
Many abortion opponents, and of course, the Supreme Court in overturning Roe v. Wade, have stated that their aim has been to return the abortion issue to the states. We can’t help noticing that now, instead of focusing only on state courts and state legislatures, abortion opponents are litigating once again in the federal arena, clearly hoping to achieve a permanent nationwide abortion ban. The WBA is wholly against a nationwide crusade to take abortion access and reproductive decisions out of the hands of individuals, their families, and their health care providers.