The Justice Department appealed a Texas court ruling that would halt approval of the abortion medication mifepristone, and the Biden administration is ready to dig in for a "long legal fight," battling states over abortion law.
"We are prepared to have a long legal fight; that is our commitment to women out there, that is our commitment to Americans across the country," White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters at Monday's daily press briefing.
Calling the decision "extraordinary and unprecedented," the DOJ appeal to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was filed just days after conflicting court rulings over the legality of the abortion medication mifepristone put in doubt access to the drug that has been widely available for more than 20 years and is the most commonly used method of abortion in the U.S.
"We believe we can win this case in the Supreme Court, if necessary," Jean-Pierre said. "What we're saying is, we're prepared for a long legal fight."
"We will pursue that process vigorously," she added, "and do everything we can to prevail in court."
U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, issued his decision Friday but ruled it would not take effect for seven days. The Biden administration in its filing with the New Orleans-based appellate court said the Texas "court's extraordinary and unprecedented order should" remain on hold while it appeals.
"If allowed to take effect, the court's order would thwart FDA's scientific judgment and severely harm women, particularly those for whom mifepristone is a medical or practical necessity," the Justice Department wrote.
Kacsmaryk's decision came at nearly the same time a separate federal judge in the state of Washington directed U.S. authorities not to make any changes that would restrict access to the drug in at least 17 states where Democrats had sued.
The Food and Drug Administration approved the use of mifepristone in 2000.
The whiplash of the conflicting decisions is likely to put the issue on an accelerated path to the Supreme Court.
Underlining that confusion, the Justice Department on Monday separately asked the federal court in Washington state for clarity.
The abortion drug has been widely used in the U.S. since securing FDA approval and there is essentially no precedent for a lone judge overruling that agency’s medical decisions.
Mifepristone is one of two drugs used for medication abortion in the United States, the other being misoprostol, which is also used to treat other medical conditions.
Many providers have to wait and see what legal filings are made between now and Friday before deciding what to do next, Jennifer Dalven, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Reproductive Freedom Project, told reporters.
If the Texas court's ruling takes effect, some providers are prepared to pivot to a misoprostol-only regimen while others may transition to only surgical abortions.
"We don't know exactly what will happen" in the courts, Dalven said. "What we do know is that there will be significant confusion and chaos as providers try to provide the best care they possibly can for their patients."
Eric Mack has been a writer and editor at Newsmax since 2016. He is a 1998 Syracuse University journalism graduate and a New York Press Association award-winning writer.
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