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No way to 'sugarcoat' dangers of abortion pill restrictions, says AMA president

Box of generic mifepristone tablets. (GenBioPro){p}{/p}
Box of generic mifepristone tablets. (GenBioPro)

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A decision on the future of the abortion pill mifepristone is expected Friday unless the United States Supreme Court orders a second extension for a ruling.

Mifepristone is at the center of the High Court after a judge in Texas overturned the Food and Drug Administration’s 2000 approval of the drug. The lower court ruling ordered the FDA to take the medication off the market despite opposition from the FDA and the drug manufacturer. The Department of Justice filed an appeal.

RELATED | Supreme Court temporarily extends access to abortion pill

The president of the American Medical Association spoke with 7News Health and Wellness Reporter Victoria Sanchez via Zoom on Thursday.

Dr. Jack Resneck is attending the 223rd World Medical Association Council Session in Nairobi, Kenya. He said world health leaders at the conference "cannot believe" the fate of the abortion pill rests with American judges.

“(The American Medical Association is) extraordinarily concerned about the implications, when an individual judge, in this case in Texas, can upend decades of science and evidence and careful decision making by the FDA, the Food and Drug Administration, and simply take a drug off the market nationwide,” said Dr. Jack Resneck. “There are implications for a large number of other drugs people may not realize. We can see similar cases follow if the Supreme Court doesn’t overturn this action against birth control pills, emergency contraception, HIV medications, drugs we use every day with our patients between arthritis and cancer just because maybe they happen to have issues with birth defects if someone were to get pregnant while they’re on them.”

In an April 7 statement, Attorney General Merrick Garland said the Northern District of Texas district court judge undermines the FDA’s “expert judgment, rendered over two decades ago, that mifepristone is safe and effective.”

Medication abortions accounted for 53% of abortions in the United States in 2020. Mifepristone was used in 98% of all abortions in combination with misoprostol, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

If the Supreme Court upholds the Texas decision, it would remove this medication from reproductive health choices, and the Department of Justice said the ruling could allow future challenges of the FDA’s authority to approve other medications.

“This could happen to any medication that Americans rely on, no matter how essential it is, and no matter how long ago it was approved,” Garland said on April 12.

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A decision by the High Court is expected sometime Friday. The justices could also issue another extension order to allow more time for a ruling.

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