In Wake of Texas Judge Ruling, Spanberger Urges Appeals Court to Protect Mifepristone Access

WOODBRIDGE, Va. — U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger joined an effort alongside 239 Members of Congress to protect access to mifepristone following federal district court judge Matthew J. Kacsmaryk’s Friday ruling that would suspend the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) approval of the drug.

Spanberger joined an amicus brief to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in the case of Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine v. FDA in support for the administration’s appeal of the ruling. In their brief, Spanberger and her colleagues underscored that the district court ruling risks denying patients in every part of the country access to mifepristone and jeopardizes patients’ access to a wide array of other medications by threatening FDA’s drug approval process — which was designed and mandated by Congress. Accordingly, they asked the court to stay the district court’s order.

If the district court ruling were left to stand and were to go into effect, Spanberger and her colleagues stressed that this ruling means that patients in every state could be denied access to the most common form of abortion care — and an important drug used in miscarriage management. The lawmakers also explained that Congress specifically designed FDA’s expert-driven drug approval process to ensure that the medications relied on by Americans every day are safe and effective. FDA followed that careful review process before it approved mifepristone for use in 2000, and its approval has been repeatedly affirmed in the more than 20 years since.

“The district court’s misguided stay under Section 705 of the Administrative Procedure Act will reduce access to abortion, exacerbating an already significant reproductive health crisis,” said Spanberger and her colleagues. “The consequences of the district court’s remedy could extend far beyond mifepristone, for it undermines the science-based, expert-driven process that Congress designed for determining whether drugs are safe and effective.”

They continued, “Its perilous consequences reach far beyond mifepristone. Providers and patients rely on the availability of thousands of FDA-approved drugs to treat or manage a range of medical conditions, including asthma, HIV, infertility, heart disease, diabetes, and more.”

Spanberger and her fellow lawmakers concluded by asking the Fifth Circuit to stay the decision, writing, “Emergency relief from the order is necessary to mitigate the imminent harm facing members of the public, many of whom rely on the availability of mifepristone for reproductive care—and many more rely on the integrity of FDA’s drug approval process for continued access to life-improving and life-saving drugs.  Congress intended to—and did—vest authority in FDA to evaluate and ensure the safety and efficacy of drugs in the United States, and Amici call on this Court to give due weight to that intent.”

The amicus brief is led in the U.S. Senate by U.S. Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Patty Murray (D-WA), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) — and in the U.S. House, the amicus brief is led by U.S. Representatives Diana DeGette (D-CO-01), Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY-08), Katherine Clark (D-MA-05), Frank Pallone (D-NJ-06), and Jerry Nadler (D-NY-12).

Click here to read the full amicus brief.

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