The Rundown

Ohio lawmakers sign on to stop federal judge’s ruling halting FDA approval of abortion drug

By: - April 12, 2023 3:47 pm

The FDA approved mifepristone under the brand-name Mifeprex in 2000, and an abortion-drug regimen that has seen few deaths and a low rate of adverse events in more than two decades of use. (Peter Dazeley/GettyImages).

More than 200 members of Congress — including six Ohio lawmakers — are trying to prevent a federal judge’s order to stop the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of an abortion drug from going into effect.

Ohio’s Democratic U.S. Reps. Joyce Beatty, Emilia Sykes, Greg Landsman, Marcy Kaptur and Shontel Brown, along with Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-OH, signed on to an amicus brief that was filed Tuesday asking the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal to stay the ruling that would prevent access to mifepristone, the first in a two-drug regimen to end a pregnancy through ten weeks gestation.

“The district court appears to have second-guessed FDA’s scientific determinations with cherry-picked anecdotes and studies, and on that basis, imposed a remedy that could significantly upend the status quo,” according to the brief. “Emergency relief from the order is necessary to mitigate the imminent harm facing members of the public, many of whom rely on the availability of mifepristone for reproductive care.”

Last Friday, Trump-appointed U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk stopped the FDA’s approval of mifepristone, the first in a two-drug regimen of mifepristone and misoprostol taken 24 to 48 hours apart to terminate a pregnancy. The FDA first approved the two-drug regimen in 2000.

The United States Department of Justice filed an emergency stay motion with the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and is asking the 5th Circuit to respond to its request for a stay by noon on Thursday. Kacsmaryk’s ruling would take effect Friday unless the 5th Circuit puts it on hold.

Within hours of the Texas ruling on Friday, U.S. District Judge Thomas Rice, ruled mifepristone should continue to be available in 17 states and the District of Columbia. Ohio is not one of those 17 states.

The lawmakers argue in the amicus brief Kacsmaryk’s ruling has no basis in law and potentially threatens access to other medications approved by the FDA.

“The consequences of the district court’s remedy could extend far beyond mifepristone, for it undermines the science-based, expert-driven process that Congress designed for determining whether drugs are safe and effective,” according to the amicus brief.

Mifepristone was used for 9,891 abortions in Ohio in 2021, according to the Ohio Department of Health.

This brief has been corrected to add omitted names of legislators who signed the brief.

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Megan Henry
Megan Henry

Megan Henry is a reporter for the Ohio Capital Journal and has spent the last five years reporting on various topics including education, healthcare, business and crime at The Columbus Dispatch, part of the USA Today Network.