CV NEWS FEED // A top Biden administration official and other political leaders have called on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ignore a Texas federal judge’s injunction against the agency’s approval of the abortion-inducing drug mifepristone.
U.S. District Court Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk stayed the FDA’s 2000 approval of mifepristone nationwide. The Biden administration has already appealed the decision, and the U.S. 5th Circuit is expected to issue a ruling on the appeal later this week.
Not only is Biden exhausting all legal means to protest the ruling, but top officials and allies are also making public statements suggesting the administration is willing to work outside the rule of law in order to keep the abortion pill widely available.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, Planned Parenthood’s research arm, over half of all abortions in the United States today are induced “medically” (e.g. with mifepristone).
Becerra: ‘Every Option On the Table’
Xavier Becerra, Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), said on Easter Sunday that ignoring the federal ruling against the FDA’s approval of mifepristone was “on the table.” Asked whether the Biden administration would “recommend the FDA ignore a ban,” Becerra answered: “Everything is on the table. The president said that way back when the Dobbs decision came out every option is on the table.”
Pro-Abortion Republican: ‘Ignore It’
Pro-abortion Republican Congresswoman Nancy Mace, R-SC, noted that “this is an FDA-approved drug, so I agree with ignoring [the ruling] at this point.” Mace did not address the court’s finding that the FDA had fast-tracked its own approval process in order to appease political abortion advocates.
“The thing should just be thrown out, quite frankly,” Mace added.
In an interview with CNN’s Dana Bash, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-NY, said she does “not believe that the courts have the authority over the FDA that they just asserted, and I do believe that it creates a crisis.”
The FDA should “simply ignore” the ruling, she stated.
Bash appeared to balk at the suggestion, responding: “That’s a pretty stunning position.”
Sen. Ron Wyden, D-OR, who chairs the Senate Finance Committee, said “I believe the Food and Drug Administration has the authority to ignore this ruling, which is why I’m again calling on President Biden and the FDA to do just that.”
Wyden also encouraged healthcare providers to ignore the ruling, as well as any concerns about the abortion drug’s safety: “The FDA, doctors, and pharmacies can and must go about their jobs like nothing has changed and keep mifepristone accessible to women across America,” he said.
Mace, Ocasio-Cortez, and Wyden earned the praise of NARAL President Mini Timmaraju, who said they “are doing their jobs — it’s their job to push the White House and agencies like the FDA” to ignore the ruling, she said.
Prior to the Ruling: ‘Enforcement Discretion’
Before Friday’s ruling, two Democratic senators called on the Biden administration to consider “every legal and regulatory tool,” implying that administration officials could override the court’s decision in order to ensure uninterrupted access to the mifepristone.
According to POLITICO, Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-MA, and Mazie Hirono, D-HI, “recently petitioned the White House to use “any existing authorities, such as enforcement discretion, to allow mifepristone to remain available.”
The “FDA has previously used its authority to protect patients’ access to treatment and could do so again,” they wrote.
“Enforcement discretion” occurs when the FDA announces it will overlook the distribution of unapproved drugs. Warren and Hirono are suggesting that the FDA decline to enforce its own approval standards specifically on mifepristone dealers, thereby using “enforcement discretion” as a tool to circumvent the federal court’s injunction against the drug.
The White House
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre has appeared to walk back Becerra’s rhetoric. At a press conference she said President Biden’s staff is seeking legal means to fight the decision “vigorously.”
She said that the Texas court’s stay of the FDA approval is a “dangerous precedent,” but it is also “dangerous” to disregard the judge’s decision. “There is a process in place for appealing this type of decision,” she said.