HOUSTON, Texas — Abortion rights advocates are sounding the alarm over a Texas lawsuit they said could restrict access to the abortion pill across the country - even in states where abortion is legal.
More than half of all abortions performed in the U.S. are done through medication.
Some advocates for reproductive rights said this decision may have more of an impact than the overturning of Roe v. Wade.
It’s a two-pill process approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration 22 years ago. Mifepristone taken along with misoprostol can induce an abortion, but now, anti-abortion advocates are trying to reverse that FDA ruling.
“The FDA never had the authority to approve these drugs in the first place," Julie Marie Blake, senior counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, said.
Alliance Defending Freedom is the group that filed a lawsuit in Texas against the FDA, seeking to undo the ruling. They argued the drugs are harmful and believe there should be safeguards for their use.
“It’s all about protecting women and girls from the harms of these drugs if they’re taking them all alone, on their own from online with no one there, making sure they’re being taken care of during this process," Blake said.
But as an abortion doctor at Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast in Houston, Dr. Bhavik Kumar said he prescribed this medicine to thousands of patients back when it was legal in Texas.
“Mifepristone is completely safe. It’s one of the safest medications that I can give a patient," Dr. Kumar said. “It is extremely safe, it is extremely effective. And again, we’ve had it approved in this country for over 20 years. And more than 5 million people have used it. We know a lot about how to use this medication and those claims are just completely inaccurate.”
But safe or not, that’s now up to a conservative-leaning federal judge in Texas to decide.
The lawsuit is seeking an injunction on the drug, which would ban its use, not just in Texas, but across the country – even in states where abortion is legal.
If the injunction is granted, the FDA would still be able to appeal that decision.
“But that decision is going to go to one of the nation's more conservative intermediate appellate courts, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, and then it could go to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court would have discretion whether to take it, and all of that takes time," University of Houston law professor Seth Chandler said.
Time - which could mean months or even years - that this drug might be banned.
Abortion rights advocates fear it won’t stop there.
“They’re not going to stop until abortion is banned in the whole country and being in a blue state is not going to save you," Delma Catalina Limones with AVOW Texas said.
That federal judge could make his decision any day.