Vice President Kamala Harris reacted Thursday to a federal appeals court’s decision to uphold the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval of abortion pills while retaining key limitations, claiming it threatens a wide range of medications.
Harris said the decision issued late Wednesday night, which allowed approval to stand but prohibited enforcement of relaxed rules issued later by the agency, “invalidates the scientific, independent judgment of the FDA.” In a 2-1 ruling, the Fifth Circuit granted in part the government’s emergency motion for a stay pending appeal, narrowing Northern District of Texas Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk’s suspension of FDA approval for abortion pills to only include rules issued by the agency after 2016, which allowed the pill to be distributed via mail and extended the period when the pill could be used through 10 weeks of pregnancy.
The 5th Circuit issued a decision disregarding the FDA’s expert judgment on abortion medication. This is a step toward a nationwide abortion ban.
The Justice Department has already announced that they are seeking emergency relief from the Supreme Court.
Read my full statement. pic.twitter.com/zfU3MDEqTm
— Vice President Kamala Harris (@VP) April 13, 2023
“The Fifth Circuit’s decision—just like the district court’s—second-guesses the agency’s medical experts,” Harris said in a statement. “If this decision stands, no medication—from chemotherapy drugs, to asthma medicine, to blood pressure pills, to insulin—would be safe from attacks. This decision threatens the rights of Americans across the country, who can look in their medicine cabinets and find medication prescribed by a doctor because the FDA engaged in a process to determine the efficacy and safety of that medication.”
Harris also said the lawsuit is “the next step to a nationwide abortion ban” and promised the administration would “continue fighting” for aboriton access. (RELATED: DOJ To Ask Supreme Court To Intervene In Abortion Pills Case)
“The decision severely limits access to mifepristone, standing between doctors and their patients,” Harris said. “President Biden and our Administration remain firmly committed to protecting access to medication abortion, as the President and I have made clear since the day of the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs.”
The Department of Justice announced Thursday it would ask the Supreme Court to intervene in the case.
“We will be seeking emergency relief from the Supreme Court to defend the FDA’s scientific judgment and protect Americans’ access to safe and effective reproductive care,” Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said in a statement.
On Wednesday, Harris held the third meeting of the Task Force on Reproductive Healthcare Access to discuss the district court’s ruling.
The Biden administration also announced new actions Wednesday to protect abortion access, including a new Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) rule that would prohibit disclosing health information “to investigate, or prosecute patients, providers, and others involved in the provision of legal reproductive health care, including abortion care.”
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