Joe Biden said he was determined to “fight” this decision, calling it an “unprecedented attempt to deprive women of fundamental freedoms”.
By VP with AFP
Subscriber-only audio playback
Une victory for opponents of abortion, a defeat for women’s rights in the United States. A federal judge has withdrawn the marketing authorization of an abortion pill approved for more than twenty years and used each year by half a million American women. President Joe Biden said he was determined to “fight” the decision, calling it an “unprecedented attempt to deprive women of fundamental freedoms”.
Ten months after the landmark Supreme Court ruling that gave each US state the freedom to ban pregnancy terminations on its soil, magistrate Matthew Kacsmaryk, known for his ultra-conservative views, issued, from Texas, a decision supposed to apply to the whole country.
At the same time, one of his colleagues, located in the State of Washington, however judged that the marketing authorization for mifepristone (RU 486), which is used in combination with another cachet, could not be withdrawn in the 17 Democratic states that had seized it. It will therefore quickly be up to the Supreme Court, profoundly overhauled by former Republican President Donald Trump, to clarify the situation.
READ ALSOIn Washington, women continue the fight for the right to abortion
The ministry opposed to the decision
Judge Kacsmaryk’s decision will not apply for a week anyway, the magistrate having chosen to give the federal government time to appeal. Which shouldn’t take long. “The Department of Justice strongly disagrees” with the decision, “it will appeal […] and will seek a reprieve in the meantime,” Minister Merrick Garland said in a statement.
In his 67-page judgment, Judge Kacsmaryk validates most of the arguments contained in the complaint filed in November by a coalition of doctors and organizations hostile to abortion against the American Medicines Agency (FDA). Like them, he resumes studies on the risks attributed to the abortion pill, although they are considered negligible by the majority of the scientific community. He also accuses the FDA of failing to follow its procedures in order to meet a political objective.
“There is evidence that the FDA faced intense political pressure to waive its safety precautions in order to promote the political goal of expanding access to abortion,” he wrote.
READ ALSOIn Washington, a mega demonstration for the total ban on abortion
” Ashamed “
“This is unheard of and deeply damaging,” commented the powerful family planning organization Planned Parenthood, which runs many abortion clinics in the country. “We should all be outraged that a judge can unilaterally reject medical evidence” to contradict the FDA, added its president Alexis McGill Johnson, stressing that this decision could have consequences “far beyond abortion”.
Democratic Vice President Kamala Harris also slammed “an unprecedented decision that threatens women’s rights across the country” and worried about the consequences for other cancer or diabetes drugs. The elected Democrats in Congress, for their part, focused their criticism on Judge Kacsmaryk: “an extremist judge” for their former leader in the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, a “rogue judge” for his successor Hakeem Jeffries.
Appointed by Donald Trump, Matthew Kacsmaryk was a lawyer for a Christian organization before taking office in Amarillo, Texas, where he is the only federal judge. By filing a complaint in this city, the opponents of abortion were certain that the case would come back to him.
READ ALSO“In the United States, state diplomacy is gaining in importance”
Friday, they did not hide their joy. The SBA Prolife America group hailed “a victory for the health and safety of women and girls.” Its Director of Political Affairs Katie Glenn said “closely analyze” the second judgment, “but we are hopeful that the dangerous disregard for women’s lives displayed for two decades by the FDA will soon be corrected”.
Even if justice ultimately suspended the FDA’s authorization, it would probably take several months before its decision applies. According to health law experts, the drug regulator must follow a strict procedure before withdrawing the authorization of a product. Women and doctors could also fall back on a second pill, misoprostol, the use of which is combined today with mifepristone for greater efficiency and less pain.
“We will not let this unfair decision prevent access to abortion pills”, which via “alternative routes” may “always arrive in your mailboxes”, has already indicated Elisa Wells, founder of the Plan network. C information on abortion pills.