health care

Democrats slam Texas abortion ruling as Republicans mostly keep quiet

Democrats slam Texas abortion ruling as Republicans mostly keep quiet
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A conservative Texas judge breached the blue wall of abortion rights protections on Friday, issuing an order that could suspend approval of a drug used in medical abortions by women across the country. – including in states with strong protections in place.

District Court Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk’s ruling could represent the biggest blow to abortion rights in the United States since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last summer. The move upended the 2022 midterm elections, sparking a backlash that helped Democrats beat expectations at nearly every level of government.

Kacsmaryk suspended his decision for seven days to allow the federal government to appeal, an opportunity the Justice Department, joined by the drugmaker, quickly said it would take. President Joe Biden slammed the decision, calling it “an unprecedented new step in stripping away women’s basic freedoms and endangering their health” and warning that the Food and Drug Administration’s mission now risks being undermined. undermined by “political and ideological attacks”.

Further complicating the matter, another federal judge in Washington state ruled on Friday that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration cannot restrict access to the drug, mifepristone, in a separate lawsuit filed by the Democratic state attorneys general.

The conflicting federal court rulings have likely produced a legal stalemate that will end up in the US Supreme Court. But the political fallout is already being felt, with Democrats at all levels of government warning that the Trump-appointed Texas judge’s decision is both grossly unfair and another step by anti-abortion Republicans in their quest to ban the procedure from national scale.

The long-running court clash comes just days after Wisconsin voters overturned a state Supreme Court seat and control of the bench to favor the liberals in a historically costly election that largely hinged on of the future of abortion rights in the state — and as policy leaders in swing states around the country are calculating its implications ahead of the 2024 election.

“This doesn’t just affect women in Texas,” Biden said Friday, “if this continues, it would prevent women in every state from accessing medications, whether or not abortion is legal in a state.

On Friday night, Democrats and allied abortion advocates quickly lashed out at the Amarillo-based Texas court and a judge the plaintiffs, led by an anti-abortion group, sought because of his previously stated opposition the right to abortion.

“Today’s unprecedented decision threatens the rights of women nationwide to make decisions about their health care and their ability to access the medications prescribed to them by their doctors,” the Vice-President said. President Kamala Harris. “Put simply: This decision compromises the FDA’s ability to approve safe and effective drugs, from chemotherapy drugs to asthma drugs, blood pressure medications and insulin, based on science and not politics.”

Republicans have been quieter in response, but this latest setback for abortion-rights supporters is another sign of conservatives’ ever-tightening grip on the courts — an issue set to play a part. influential in the 2024 elections.

“If there was any doubt that GOP extremists want anything more than a ban on all abortions, everywhere, today’s ruling should make it clear that they have no intention of upholding our freedoms,” said NARAL Pro-Choice America President Mini Timmaraju. statement.

Democratic leaders in many states offering abortion protections have insisted the Texas court ruling will not affect access to mifepristone, though it’s unclear how providers will interpret the rulings. opposites.

Ellen Rosenblum, the Democratic attorney general of Oregon, said her office was reviewing the orders, but made it clear that this new front in the legal and political fight against abortion was only taking shape.

“Don’t get too distracted by the latest news from Texas – we got a BIG WINNER in the case led by Oregon and Washington (and joined by 16 other states),” Rosenblum tweeted. “The federal judge for the Eastern District of Washington JUST granted our request to preserve access to mifepristone pending the outcome of our case.”

Should Kacsmaryk’s decision ultimately prevail, it would effectively end the two-decade-old approval of mifepristone, the first drug in the medical abortion process. But even if that falls on appeal, his attempt to overturn the decision of FDA health care professionals on the use of a drug that has been used safely and effectively for so long marks a busy new chapter in the post-Roe American politics.

The longstanding national divide was heightened last June by the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which ended federal protections for women seeking the procedure, allowing lawmakers and leaders Republican states to enact new restrictions or outright bans. It was a historic victory for conservatives, but also sparked a backlash that damaged Republicans in more moderate or left-leaning states during last year’s midterm elections.

“Dobbs was supposed to leave abortion laws to the states. But now unelected Republican judges are making decisions for every person in the country. This will motivate voters, especially those feeling the impact of these anti-abortion rulings for the first time,” said Danielle Deiseroth, acting executive director of liberal think tank and pollster Data For Progress.

Wisconsin voters on Tuesday made a clear statement about the power of abortion politics when they elected liberal Justice Janet Protasiewicz to the state High Court. His victory over a conservative judge aligned with anti-abortion groups all but guaranteed that Democratic Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul’s lawsuit challenging the state’s abortion ban, an issue central to his successful run for president. re-election from 2022, would prevail – a key selling point during the campaign.

“Our state is taking a step toward a brighter and better future where our rights and freedoms are protected,” Protasiewicz said in his victory speech this week.

The Texas decision could also spark new internal dissension within the Democratic and Republican parties. Some liberal Democrats argued late Friday that the White House should ignore the order and ask the FDA to stick to its current stance.

“I think the Biden administration should ignore this decision,” New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez told CNN’s Anderson Cooper shortly after it was published. “What (the courts) are doing now is engaged in an unprecedented and dramatic erosion of the legitimacy of the courts.”

Ocasio-Cortez also pointed to a statement by Oregon Senator Ron Wyden, who made a similar point.

“This devastating decision has no legal basis and will ban the most common method of abortion in ALL states,” Wyden tweeted. “President Biden can and should ignore this ruling and keep mifepristone on the market and available to all women in America.”

Biden now risks a row with his own party if he doesn’t take a hard line. His response on Friday night was fiery, complete with a promise to “fight this decision.” But even though he derided it as “the next big step toward the national abortion ban that elected Republicans have pledged to make law in America,” Biden did not immediately suggest he would order the FDA to ignore it.

Republicans could also find themselves at odds with each other as the election backlash following Dobbs — the decision that toppled Roe — becomes harder to ignore.

Former President Donald Trump, again a leading contender for the GOP nomination, has remained largely silent on abortion issues. Earlier this year, Trump appeared to blame abortion opponents for the GOP’s weak midterm performance, saying “the people who pushed so hard, for decades, against abortion, got their wish of the Supreme Court of the United States and simply vanished, never to be seen again”. .”

The effects were clearest in Michigan, where an election measure to enshrine the rights to abortion, contraception and miscarriage management passed with an overwhelming majority. Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Attorney General Dana Nessel and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson – all Democrats – won re-election, and Democrats reversed control of the State House and Senate.

Now, however, the measure passed by nearly 57% of voters could be undermined by reduced access to a medical abortion pill, which is used in more than half of abortions in the United States.

“In this particular circumstance, what the plaintiffs (Texas case) have essentially asked for is that a single judge in one district of one state make a decision that will affect millions of people in all 50 states,” said Nessel recently told CNN. “And it’s incredibly scary.”

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