FDA-approved abortion pill in jeopardy after a conservative lawsuit


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Anais Denuccio, Contributor

A case presiding over mifepristone, the FDA-approved abortion pill, was recently presented to a federal judge in Texas, with conservative hopes of a ruling that will ban the drug. According to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, “mifepristone, (RU-486), is a drug that blocks a hormone called progesterone that is needed for a pregnancy to continue.” A conservative legal advocacy organization began the legal proceedings and claimed that mifepristone comes with long-term medical risks and should be banned. 

The battle over abortion rights in the United States has been ongoing for decades, and it remains one of the most divisive and contentious issues in American politics. The debate over reproductive rights is typically centered around differing views on when life begins. This debate has placed the rights of the fetus and the rights of the mother in somewhat conflicting positions. 

A decision on the matter is expected by Feb. 24, with both sides of the abortion battle eagerly awaiting the ruling. If an FDA-approved pregnancy prevention pill were to be banned nationwide, it could lead to individuals having no recourse to a pill that would ensure that pregnancy does not occur. 

In terms of abortion rights in the U.S., a ban on an FDA-approved pregnancy prevention pill would not directly impact the legality of abortion. However, it could contribute to a larger effort to restrict access to reproductive healthcare and limit the range of options available to women who wish to prevent or terminate a pregnancy. Access to reproductive healthcare, including both contraception and abortion, is a highly politicized issue. 

A ban on the abortion pill would be yet another setback for reproductive rights. The landmark Supreme Court Case, Roe v. Wade decided in 1973, established abortion as a constitutional right; this decision has since been overturned. Conservative lawmakers at the state and federal levels have sought to restrict access to abortion through measures including mandatory waiting periods, parental consent laws and prohibitions on certain methods of abortion like mifepristone.

Elizabeth Smitherman, a freshman at the University stated that she never thought that abortions would go from being banned after six weeks of pregnancy to being banned entirely. Smitherman’s feelings were largely negative: “Imagine a girl at 15 getting impregnated for the wrong reasons and not being able to save her own life if there were health risks involved or the means to provide or the trauma that went along with it.”

Raised in Texas, Smitherman’s argument revealed that the FDA-approved abortion pill should not be banned as there are not any other ways to get an abortion in her home state. “I understand there are health risks, but I’ve researched them myself and they are rare. As a teenage girl at a Texas high school, I was concerned if something like this was going to happen to me, let alone anyone else.”

Cliona Pasek, a second-year student at the University, also shared her insight on the matter. Pasek alluded to feeling strongly about this issue and said, “after [the reversal of] Roe v. Wade…the country is beginning to see this domino effect of women’s reproductive rights being taken away so quickly, including birth control access, the availability of Planned Parenthood and all of these abortion rights that women should have.” 


She continued to emphasize that the overall ban on abortion and the FDA-approved abortion pill should not be justified because of religious beliefs, and that “banning the abortion pill is plainly banning another method for women to plan their reproductive futures.”