In the United States, the fate of an abortion pill in the hands of a conservative judge
US conservative judge Matthew Kacsmaryk will deliver his verdict on Friday on whether or not to ban mifepristone, this pill used for medical abortions.
The battle around abortion continues to inflame the United States. After a first Conservative victory in 2022, which left the fate of this right in the hands of each state, it is the question of the sale of mifepristone, a pill which interrupts pregnancy by medication, which is being studied. Friday February 24. The only federal judge in Texas, Matthew Kacsmaryk, appointed in 2019 by Donald Trump, must rule on whether or not to authorize its sale in American pharmacies.
Authorized since 2000 in the United States, this drug, in addition to misoprosol, aims to eliminate the embryo. This pill is taken until the end of the 7e week of pregnancy. After this time, instrumental abortion is performed, by absorption of the fetus. Today, it is accused by the conservative association Alliance Defending Freedom of endangering the health of women who use it. Last November, the association filed a complaint with Matthew Kacsmaryk, federal judge in Amarillo, Texas, against the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the institution responsible for the sale of mifepristone in the United States.
For Nicole Bacharan, a political scientist specializing in American society, “these accusations are totally unfounded and correspond to a real war being waged today against abortion in the United States“. In 2022, at the height of the debate on abortion in the country, the judges of the Supreme Court revoked the Roe vs Wade decision on the question of abortion, so far studied at a federal level – all from the country. Debates on abortion have since been relegated to a state rank. Each State can therefore decide on its own legislation in this area.
The future of this abortion pill will this time be decided at a national level through the reason invoked by the association: last November, Alliance Defending Freedom had filed a complaint for a health reason (and not the questioning of the abortion), which is subject to national legislation. In their complaint, it is stated:The FDA betrayed women and girls when it chose politics over science and approved the use of a chemical for abortion in the United States.” Concretely, “a mere federal judge from Texas…could issue a national ban on the abortion pill, the effects would obviously be devastating“reacted Jenny Ma, a lawyer at the Center for reproductive rights.
For Pauline Diaz, specialist in sexual and reproductive rights, the question that arises is to knowhow these associations will constrain abortion as much as possible“. “It’s a real power game, and the idea is to further hinder abortion by making people believe that abortion pills are dangerous.“.
In the case, one point seems to stand in the way. “It is very difficult legally to file a complaint against the FDAexplains Nicole Bacharan. This involves questioning an authorization that did not go beyond the framework of the abortion law passed by Congress. Moreover, this authorization dates from 2000 and followed years of tests and experiments before and after its launch on the market. His questioning is therefore absurd, but Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk did not reject the complaint, which raises fears of the latter’s ideological position.»
Consequences for abortion
The abortion pill accounts for more than half of abortions in the United States. If its prohibition has important consequences for American women, it should nevertheless be remembered that it would not entirely eliminate the medicinal method because the decision would only concern mifepristone. The second pill used in the treatment, misoprosol, can on its own eliminate the embryo.
But abortion by the sole use of this second drug is longer and more painful. “Instead of using one tablet of mifepristone and then four of misoprosol, you would now have to swallow twelve tablets of misoprosol, which can cause side effects such as nauseaexplains Pauline Diaz. We are simply going back to the old methods, and this constantly puts obstacles in the way of advances in medicine to make abortion more bearable and effective.“.
If the verdict rendered by Matthew Kacsmaryk goes in the direction of the association, the case will then be handed over to the Federal Court of Appeals of New Orleans, also known for its conservatism. This is the mid-level federal court in the United States. It deals with all appeals filed by these district judges. There are thirteen in the United States. As a last resort, the complaint can be sent to the Supreme Court.