The battle over access to a key drug used for medication abortions continues to heat up, both in a Texas courtroom and in the U.S. Senate. Pro-abortion Senators are threatening Walgreens for refusing to distribute abortion drugs in certain states.
U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk heard arguments on Wednesday in a case involving the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s decades-old approval of the drug mifepristone, one of two medications used to terminate an early pregnancy. The plaintiffs asked Kacsmaryk to order the FDA to withdraw its approval of the drug, arguing that the agency mistakenly approved the drug under a regulation that allows accelerated approval of medications for “serious or life-threatening illnesses.”
The Biden administration has warned that such a step would harm patients who rely on abortion pills and further strain state healthcare systems, particularly in places with clinics already grappling with overcrowding as a result of abortion restrictions in neighboring states.
Each party had two hours make its case before the judge. Kacsmaryk laid out several issues for them to discuss, including whether the plaintiffs have the legal standing to sue, whether an injunction would serve the public interest and the regulation under which mifepristone was approved. The judge could issue his decision on the request for a preliminary injunction any time, although a quick appeal to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit is expected.
Meanwhile, nearly 20 Democratic senators are calling on Walgreens to provide more details about its recently announced plans to restrict access to abortion pills in certain states — including Missouri and Kansas — and pressing other major chains to make it clear where they stand on the issue.
“At a time of great confusion about abortion access, your company has done the disservice of adding to it,” the senators wrote in a letter led by Patty Murray of Washington and Debbie Stabenow of Michigan. “While we are well aware of threatening letters you received with regard to the distribution of mifepristone in certain states, the response to those pressures was unacceptable and appeared to yield to these threats — ignoring the critical need to ensure patients can get this essential healthcare wherever possible.”
Walgreens announced its decision this month after it came under pressure from a group of Republican attorneys general who said in a letter that it could face legal consequences if it sold abortion medication in their states. The attorneys general sent similar letters to CVS, Rite Aid, Albertsons, Costco, Kroger and Walmart.
Democrat governors are now moving to cut ties with Walgreens.
–Dwight Widaman | Metro Voice