The US executive reacted strongly to the suspension Friday by a federal judge of the abortion pill in the United States, approved for more than 20 years and used each year by half a million American women.
Denouncing this new resounding victory for opponents of abortion in the United States, President Joe Biden said he was determined to "fight" this decision, calling it an "unprecedented attempt to deprive women of fundamental freedoms".
The withdrawal of the marketing authorization for the abortion pill was quickly appealed to the courts in Texas by the American Medicines Agency (FDA). More than two decades ago, the FDA approved the abortion pill "based on a comprehensive review of the available scientific evidence and determined it to be safe and effective for its indicated use - medical termination of early pregnancy," said recalled this Agency in a statement to the American media.
Ten months after a historic Supreme Court judgment which gave each American state the freedom to ban pregnancy terminations on its soil, magistrate Matthew Kacsmaryk, known for his ultra-conservative views, handed down a decision in Texas (south) intended to apply to the whole country.
At the same time, one of his colleagues in the state of Washington (north-west) 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the marketing authorization for mifepristone (RU 486) which is used in combination with another cachet could not be withdrawn in the 17 Democratic states that had seized it.
He will quickly return to the Supreme Court, deeply overhauled by former Republican President Donald Trump, to clarify the situation.
Judge Kacsmaryk's decision will not apply for a week anyway, the magistrate having chosen to give the federal government time to appeal.
"The Department of Justice strongly disagrees" with the decision, "it will appeal (...) and seek a stay in the meantime," said Minister Merrick Garland in a statement.
In his 67-page judgment, Judge Kacsmaryk upheld most of the arguments in the November lawsuit filed by a coalition of doctors and anti-abortion organizations against the 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 indicating 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 writes.
"This is unprecedented and deeply damaging," said the powerful family planning organization Planned Parenthood, which runs many abortion clinics in the country.
“We should all be outraged that a judge could 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" by raising fears of consequences for other cancer or diabetes drugs.
Congressional Democrats, for their part, have focused their criticism on Judge Kacsmaryk: "an extremist judge" for their former leader of 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.
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 unjust decision prevent access to abortion pills", which via "alternative routes" can "still arrive in your mailboxes", said Elisa Wells, founder of the Plan C information network on abortion pills.
08/04/2023 19:49:39 - Washington (AFP) - © 2023 AFP