Home Democrats are calling for an instantaneous listening to

Abortion rights supporters gather in front of the J Marvin Jones Federal Building and Courthouse on March 15, 2023 in Amarillo, Texas.

Moises Avila | AFP | Getty Images

Democrats on the US House Energy and Commerce Committee on Wednesday called for an immediate hearing on a federal judge’s order to suspend the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the abortion pill mifepristone.

All 23 Democrats on the committee wrote in a letter to Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., arguing that the ruling undermines the FDA’s authority over the drug approval process.

Lawmakers said the committee and the public needed to hear from experts about the implications of Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk’s decision last week. They cite more than a dozen food and drug law scientists who say that banning mifepristone would produce “harmful after-effects” that would affect abortion patients, healthcare providers and the biopharmaceutical industry.

“The committee and the American people need to understand the implications of this decision and what is at stake not only for abortion care but for access to critical, safe and effective medicines more broadly,” they wrote in the letter.

Mifepristone, used in combination with another drug called misoprostol, is the most common method of terminating a pregnancy in the United States, accounting for about half of all abortions, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The letter comes a day after Republican and Democratic lawmakers fell out over Kacsmaryk’s order. which he presented last Friday before the US District Court in Amarillo, Texas.

More than 200 Democratic lawmakers filed an amicus brief on Tuesday asking a federal appeals court to grant emergency relief from the ruling. Fifty senators and 190 members of the House of Representatives wrote in the brief that repealing the order “is necessary to mitigate the imminent harm to the public.”

Lawmakers added that many people rely on the availability of mifepristone for reproductive care, and “many more” rely on the FDA’s drug approval authority for access to other life-saving drugs.

Hours later, 69 Republicans filed a separate amicus brief asking the appeals court to uphold Kacsmaryk’s decision.

In their brief, GOP lawmakers said the agency’s approval of medical abortions was “unlawful.” They claimed the FDA failed to follow Congress’ “legally required drug approval process” by approving mifepristone in 2000.

“FDA’s lawless actions ultimately endanger women and girls who seek chemical abortions,” lawmakers wrote. The assignment was chaired by Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., and includes 10 other senators and 58 House Republicans.

The briefs came a day after the Justice Department ordered the US Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to keep the abortion pill mifepristone on the US market during the litigation, blocking the verdict until noon Thursday.

In his decision, Kacsmaryk said the FDA unreasonably rushed its approval process for mifepristone when it approved the drug.

The judge delayed the effective date of his ruling by a week to give the Biden administration time to appeal. It is scheduled to go into effect at 00:00 CT on Saturday.

Kacsmaryk’s decision conflicts with a ruling by a second federal judge. Minutes after the Texas decision, a Washington state judge issued an injunction that could protect access to mifepristone in the 17 states and Washington, DC, prompting a lawsuit arguing that there were too many regulations for the give medicine.

The two orders could potentially escalate the matter to the Supreme Court.

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