Texas court ruling to ban abortion drug could harm Black women

A widely used abortion pill could soon be unavailable to the public following a recent ruling by a conservative Texas judge.

Morgan Hopkins, president of All* Above All, an abortion advocacy group, told theGrio women will now have “decimating access to medication abortion based on nothing but politics and baseless claims.” 

TALLAHASSEE, FL – FEBRUARY 16: Advocates for bodily autonomy march to the Florida Capitol to protest a bill before the Florida legislature to limit abortions on February 16, 2022 in Tallahassee, Florida. (Photo by Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images)

She warned the abortion medication ban, “like all abortion bans, will fall hardest on people of color and those working to make ends meet.”

On Friday, Texas U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump, banned the use of mifepristone. 

The ruling comes after the Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian legal advocacy group, filed a motion requesting that the court either remove the abortion pill or limit its availability to the public as part of an anti-abortion campaign in November 2022, as theGrio previously reported.

In 2000, the FDA approved the use of mifepristone with another drug called misoprostol. Together, the drugs terminate a pregnancy up to 10 weeks.

If Judge Kacsmaryk’s ruling is enforced, doctors will only be allowed to prescribe misoprostol which has been proven to be less effective when terminating pregnancies. As a result, women and pregnant people who seek abortions – particularly those who are Black and brown – may face challenges finding alternative routes. 

Oriaku Njoku, executive director of the National Network of Abortion Funds, told theGrio, “The fact that this lawsuit even exists proves just how far people who do not stand for the fundamental freedom of their family, friends, and loved ones to make the right decisions about their lives will go.”

Njoku said the harm will fall hardest on “those who face economic injustices and barriers to healthcare – especially Black people, indigenous people, people of color, and people with intersectional identities.”

In an effort to stop the abortion pill ban, the U.S. Department of Justice filed an appeal to overturn the Texas court ruling on Monday.  

(AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

Attorney General Merrick Garland issued made clear in a statement that the DOJ “strongly disagrees” with the lower court’s decision which he said “overturns the FDA’s expert judgment, rendered over two decades ago, that mifepristone is safe and effective.”

The attorney general said the DOJ will “continue to defend the FDA’s decision,” adding, “The Department is committed to protecting Americans’ access to legal reproductive care.” 

Hopkins told theGrio, there is not a “scientific reason for these bans” and called it “purely political.”

“These restrictions and bans especially harm people of color who are working to make ends meet, those who live in rural areas, and those without a nearby health care provider,” she explained.

“Barriers to abortion care are rooted in systemic racism and reflect ongoing inequities in our healthcare system.”

Last week after the Texas decision, U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., weighed in on the legal matter and called on President Joe Biden to ignore the ruling. The progressive Democrat told CNN the ruling was an “egregious overreach.”

“I believe the Biden administration should ignore this ruling,” said the lawmaker. 

Ocasio-Cortez told CNN’s Anderson Cooper that although Texas ruled to stop the use of mifepristone, it is up to the Biden administration on whether to enforce the ruling.

The courts, she argued, are engaging in “an unprecedented and dramatic erosion of the legitimacy of the courts. She added, “It is the justices themselves, through the deeply partisan and unfounded nature of these rulings, that are undermining their own enforcement.”  

Last week, the Biden administration said it would “fight the ruling.” In a statement, Biden called the lawsuit and subsequent decision “another unprecedented step in taking away basic freedoms from women and putting their health at risk.”

An abortion rights activist holds a sign as Indiana House of Representatives votes to ban abortion, before passing the bill to the Senate, inside the Indiana State house during a special session in Indianapolis. (Photo by Jeremy Hogan/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

If the ruling were to stand, he warned it would “prevent women in every state from accessing the medication” and said it was “the next big step toward the national ban on abortion that Republican elected officials have vowed to make law in America.”

The president also cautioned that if the Texas ruling is upheld, it will put other prescription drugs in danger of political and “ideological attacks.” Biden said the only way to overcome the attack on women’s right to an abortion is by electing pro-choice congressional members who can restore Roe v. Wade, which was overruled by the conservative majority of the Supreme Court last summer.

Hopkins told theGrio, “The Biden administration and the FDA can and must act immediately to ensure medication abortion care remains available, without interference from politicians or judges.” 

Meanwhile, the Justice Department has issued a stay to prevent the Texas judge’s ruling from going into effect later this week. 

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