States say withdrawing FDA approval could be ‘devastating’

Attorneys general for 21 states and Washington, DC, argued Friday that trying to take the abortion pill off the US market would have “devastating consequences” for women.

The filing in Texas federal district court comes in response to a lawsuit brought by anti-abortion advocates who have asked that court to overturn the two-decade-old Food and Drug Administration approval of mifepristone.

Attorneys general argued that repealing FDA approval would make the pill largely inaccessible, forcing women to either undergo more invasive surgery or forego an abortion altogether.

The surgical portion is also more expensive and harder to get, they argued, which would disproportionately affect lower-income, underserved women or women living in rural communities where there may not be access to a clinic.

“It would be devastating,” said Attorney General Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, who is presiding over the case in the US District Court in North Texas.

Abortion rights group NARAL Pro-Choice America said in an analysis released Friday that 40 million women would lose access to the abortion pill if the court overturned the FDA’s approval.

When combined with misoprostol, mifepristone is the most common method of abortion in the United States, accounting for about half of all abortions.

Kacsmaryk extended an important deadline in the case on Thursday. He directed one of the abortion pill makers, Danco Laboratories, to fight the lawsuit. The anti-abortion advocates who brought the case then have until February 24 to respond.

“Forcing the FDA to revoke a long-standing approval would upset the government’s agency of determining whether drugs are safe and effective and would cause direct and immediate harm to Danco by closing its business,” attorneys for Danco Laboratories said in court Friday.

Mifepristone has become a central issue in the battle for access to abortion since the Supreme Court Roe v. Wade lifted last June.

New York led the coalition of attorney generals and Washington, DC, arguing to keep mifepristone on the market. Other states included California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Washington, and Wisconsin.

The FDA changed its rules last month to allow certified retail pharmacies to dispense mifepristone. CV And Walgreensthe country’s two largest drugstore chains, have said they will be certified to dispense prescription drugs in states where it’s legal.

Republican attorneys general warned companies not to mail the pill in their states and indicated they would take legal action.

There are also lawsuits aimed at overturning government restrictions on mifepristone on the grounds that they conflict with FDA regulations. GenBioPro, the other abortion pill maker, is suing to get West Virginia’s ban overturned. A doctor in North Carolina questions that state’s restrictions.

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