On Sunday, the top health official of the U.S. said the court ruling threatened the accessibility of the primary drug used in a mediated abortion and said it was “not America.” However, he didn’t eliminate the possibility of defying the court’s order if needed.
“We want the courts to overturn this reckless decision,” said Becerra, health president of President Joe Biden. “We want, yes, that women continue to have access to a drug that’s proven itself safe. Millions of women have used this drug around the world.”
Becerra said that currently, women have access to mifepristone, the abortion medication, after Matthew Kacsmaryk, a federal judge, halted his Friday ruling to allow for a challenge.
In 2000, the drug was approved by the Food and Drug Administration, which Becerra oversaw as the head of the Health and Human Services Department (HHS).
“For America’s sake and for women’s sake, we have to prevail in this,” said Becerra.
The Biden administration maintained it would continue to battle the Texas ruling. “We intend to do everything to make sure it’s available to them not just in a week, but moving forward, period because mifepristone is one of the safest and most effective medicines that we have seen over the past 20 years to help women with their health care, especially abortion care,” said Becerra.
When asked if he might recommend the FDA ignore the ban, the HHS secretary said, “Everything is on the table.”
There is uncertainty about the accessibility of the most frequently used abortion method in the U.S. after two conflicting and separate court rulings in Washington and Texas over the ultimate legality of mifepristone.
Judge’s decision placed a hold on abortion drug
Judge Kacsmaryk’s decision ordered a hold on federal approval of mifepristone, a controversial drug used in medicated abortions. However, a ruling issued simultaneously by U.S. District Judge Thomas O Rice, appointed by Barack Obama, stated no changes that restricted access to the drug in at least 17 states were made.
According to Becerra, Kacsmaryk’s order could have critical ramifications for the legality of FDA-approved insulin, vaccines, or other new drugs, including Alzheimer’s drugs, coming onto the market because it seeks to “turn upside down” the FDA approval process.
Becerra, the former attorney general of California, said there was a “good chance” the case would be ultimately decided by the United States Supreme Court (SCOTUS). Last year, SCOTUS overturned Roe v. Wade, which slowed abortion nationwide.
“If a judge decides to substitute his preference, his personal opinion, for that of scientists and medical professionals, what drug isn’t subject to some kind of legal challenge? So, we have to go to court,” said Becerra.
The cabinet secretary, referring to Kacsmaryk, said, “What you saw by that one judge in that one court, in that one state, that’s not America. America goes by the evidence. America does what’s fair. America does what is transparent, and we can show that what we do is for the right reasons.”
GOP Rep. Tony Gonzales, appearing on CNN after Becerra and said, “It’s important that we take care of women” and have “real discussions on women’s health care” but “get off the abortion conversation. Women have a whole lot more other issues than just abortion. …Let’s talk about the other things that are happening in this world.”