A Texas federal judge issued an order suspending the US government’s decades-old approval of a key drug used in medication abortion, initiating a process that could block access to the pill nationwide in a week.
The preliminary injunction issued Friday by US District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, who was appointed by President Donald Trump, could soon end the sale and distribution of mifepristone — used as part of a two-pill regimen to terminate a pregnancy within the first 10 weeks — while a lawsuit seeking a more permanent ban on the drug proceeds.
Kacsmaryk’s order will not go into effect for seven days, giving the Biden administration time to appeal his decision to the New Orleans-based 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals, which is considered one of the most conservative courts in the country.
But Kacsmaryk’s ruling was almost immediately followed on Friday by a decision by a federal judge in Washington state. US District Judge Thomas Rice, an appointee of President Barack Obama, granted a request by several Democratic-leaning states for an order affirming FDA approval of mifepristone and blocking the government from further restricting its distribution.
It’s unclear how the opposing rulings will affect each other.
Kacsmaryk’s decision is sure to further elevate abortion access as a potent political issue heading into the the 2024 US elections. Medication abortion has become the most common method in the country as states across the nation grapple with how to legislate reproductive rights in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision last year overturning Roe v. Wade.