Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee are calling for a hearing into a federal judge’s decision to invalidate the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval of the abortion pill mifepristone.
“As members of the Committee of jurisdiction over FDA and our nation’s drug approval process, we have an important responsibility to review and consider any detrimental impacts or threats to FDA’s ‘Gold Standard’ of review,” the Democrats wrote in a letter to committee chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) and health subcommittee chairman Brett Guthrie (R-Ky.).
The Department of Justice has appealed the decision, which is scheduled to go into effect on April 14 unless an emergency stay is granted.
Mifepristone has been approved by the FDA since 2000 for use in medically-induced abortions up to 10 weeks into a pregnancy.
Mifepristone is used in more than half of U.S. abortions, but many providers have said they would switch to a misoprostol-only regimen if it becomes unavailable. Misoprostol is used alongside mifepristone in the two-step regimen for medication abortion.
“Given the implications of this decision, we believe it is important for the Committee to hear from experts about how the outcome of this case attempts to undermine the drug approval process, restricts access to an FDA-approved medication, and places ideology, politics, and judicial activism above science,” the Democrats wrote.
The decision, which the Justice Department has appealed, could have far-reaching implications for access to abortion nationwide, as well as the authority of the entire FDA. If upheld, it could restrict access to one of the two FDA-approved abortion drugs in every state, even ones where abortion is legal.
Legal experts, drug companies and the Biden administration have also said the ruling could open the door to any third party to challenge any medication or treatment that they disagree with, including vaccines for children, AIDS drugs, birth control or hormone therapy.
A group of 69 Republican members of Congress have filed a brief urging an appeals court to uphold the Texas judge’s decision; however, high-profile Republicans have stayed largely silent on the ruling.