10 medical associations react to Texas abortion pill ruling

In the days since the Texas federal court ruling that suspended the FDA's approval of mifepristone — one of two pills used to induce abortion medically — several medical associations reacted to the unprecedented case.

The decision comes nine months after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and 23 years since medication abortion was FDA-approved in 2000. The new ruling out of Texas is the first time a federal judge has called for removal of the medication's approval even though both the FDA and the drugmaker oppose it. 

While abortion remains legal in several states, the move will affect providers' and patients' ability to access the medication. Before the ruling came out, some states even stockpiled large quantities of the drug to preserve access to the medication for individuals in their states in the meantime.

A separate ruling on a case out of Washington contradicted the Texas court's ruling, which will likely send the case before the Supreme Court. In the meantime, well-known medical associations came out on different sides of the fence as well. 

As of April 12, an appeals court partially overturned the Texas judge's decision and for now the medication will remain available as more evidence is considered. 

Here's how 10 prominent medical associations responded to the mifepristone ruling from the Texas court: 

In opposition of

  • The American Nurses Association came out condemning the decision to block the FDA's approval of mifepristone. The organization stated it is "appalled" by the ruling and called the move "yet another threat to individuals' basic reproductive health and human rights."

  • The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists noted in an April 10 press release that it is "concerned about the Texas ruling's potential impact on patient access to care as well as implications for the FDA approval of other drugs." It also reaffirmed its support for a patient's right to access reproductive healthcare services, including an individual's decision to terminate a pregnancy.

  • The American Medical Association published a statement after the ruling April 7 noting that the judge's decision "flies in the face of science and evidence and threatens to upend access to a safe and effective drug that has been used by millions of people for more than 20 years." The organization also criticized the court for intervening in patient decisions and its "disregard for well-established scientific facts in favor of speculative allegations and ideological assertions."
  • The American Public Health Association called the decision "catastrophic" and stated that what is "equally as disastrous" is how the decision also "undermines the ability of the FDA to make safe and effective medications available to patients who need them." It also reaffirmed its support for abortion as a healthcare service and underscored that as such, it should remain accessible.

  • The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists also criticized the judge's ruling, saying that it is a "grievous legal overstep into America's well-established regulatory system" and "misrepresents medication abortion care" as well as the work of those who provide it to patients in need.

  • Physicians for Human Rights published a statement April 7 after the decision was released calling it "unconscionable" and claiming that "this case and the broader campaign to restrict access to abortion care nationwide are not based in medicine or science" and will result in broader implications for public health nationwide.

  • The American Pharmacists Association released its position on the decision April 7, noting that it will continue to "stand behind the FDA review and approval process that relies on evidence-based expert review," and added that the court's decision further adds to the ongoing "confusion and complexity to an already complicated state and federal legal and regulatory landscape for pharmacists and patients related to mifepristone."

  • Nurse Practitioners in Women's Health issued its statement April 10 expressing concerns that the decision will result in "a real and immediate impact on patients and healthcare providers" and "make many healthcare procedures less safe for patients."

In support of

  • The American Association of Pro-Life OB-GYNs, one of the original groups to file a petition against the FDA over mifepristone in 2002, issued a statement calling the judge's decision a "victory" for all patients. The organization claimed mifepristone is dangerous and stated, "Today's ruling places women's welfare back at the forefront of the conversation on this issue."

  • Christian Medical and Dental Associations, which was also one of the original groups to file a petition in 2002 against the FDA, published a statement April 10 praising the ruling for holding the FDA "accountable for their actions." In its statement, the organization also condemned the FDA for approving the medication in the first place and said the judge's decision "protects women and girls from drugs that cause harm." The group is one of the largest religious-based healthcare associations in the country. 

According to the FDA, mifepristone is "safe when used as indicated and directed" and its approval in 2000 was "based on a thorough and comprehensive review of the scientific evidence presented." Since its approval, medication abortion has risen in use to account for 51 percent of abortions nationwide, according to the CDC.

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