By Kate Scanlon | OSV News
WASHINGTON (OSV News) — Pro-life groups, as well as several members of Congress and state attorneys general, filed 15 friend-of-the-court briefs Feb. 10 with a federal court involving the U.S. government’s approval of drugs for early abortion.
Four medical associations and four doctors filed suit in Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine v. U.S. Food and Drug Administration over the FDA’s approval of the use of chemical abortion drugs — sometimes referred to as a medical or medication abortion — which they say present adverse health and safety risks to women who use them.
Marc Wheat, general counsel for Advancing American Freedom, a political advocacy group launched by former Vice President Mike Pence and one of the groups that filed a brief, told OSV News that “what we are seeing in a post-Roe world is a full-frontal attack from the left on the pro-life movement.”
“So far we have witnessed the Biden administration’s attempts to expand the reach of chemical abortions, slow walk investigations of attacks on pregnancy centers, and eliminate the conscience clause for health care workers and religious hospitals,” Wheat said, explaining the organization aimed to “hold the Biden administration accountable for their egregious attempts to expand the abortion industry.”
Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys, representing the Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine, the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American College of Pediatricians, the Christian Medical & Dental Associations, and doctors Shaun Jester, Regina Frost-Clark, Tyler Johnson and George Delgado in the case, argued that the FDA unlawfully approved the drugs without appropriately evaluating their potential risks for women.
“The FDA’s approval of chemical abortion drugs has always stood on shaky legal and moral ground, and after years of evading responsibility, it’s time for the government to do what it’s legally required to do: protect the health and safety of vulnerable women and girls,” Erik Baptist, ADF senior counsel, said. “We and the many parties who are supporting the national medical associations and doctors hope the court will agree the FDA never had the authority to approve these dangerous drugs and reject the marketing and distribution of them.”
In January, the FDA eased restrictions on the sale of mifepristone, the first of two drugs used in a chemical abortion, permitting their sale at retail pharmacies for the first time. The decision followed the Supreme Court’s decision last year in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization that struck down the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, after which states moved to restrict or broaden abortion access.
On its website, the FDA said mifepristone “is safe when used as indicated and directed and consistent with the Mifepristone Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS) Program.”
“The FDA approved Mifeprex more than 20 years ago based on a thorough and comprehensive review of the scientific evidence presented and determined that it was safe and effective for its indicated use,” the agency said, adding that it is approved for use up to “70 days of gestation.”
“As with all drugs, the FDA continues to closely monitor the postmarketing safety data on mifepristone for the medical termination of pregnancy,” the agency’s website states.
Danco Laboratories, the manufacturer of mifepristone, filed a motion in January to intervene in ADF’s lawsuit in defense of its product.
Pro-life state attorneys general, including Lynn Fitch of Mississippi, who argued the Dobbs case, argued in a brief that the Biden administration “doubled down on its efforts to impose on the country an elective-abortion policy that it could never achieve through the democratic process, that goal is not new — especially with abortion drugs.”
“The serious nature of the FDA’s unlawful actions, and the agency’s decision to invite lawbreaking by private parties and government actors across the country, favors broad relief,” the attorneys general wrote. “The FDA and the administration as a whole have no intention to respect the Constitution, the Supreme Court, or the democratic process when it comes to abortion. This court’s decisive action is warranted.”