US: Mifepristone faces ban in latest attack on abortion rights

By S. Rodriguez 

This week, the right-wing offensive on abortion rights reached new heights in the US, as a Texas Court granted a hearing to far-right, anti-choice coalition seeking to challenge federal approval of Mifepristone – a medication listed on the World Health Organisation’s ‘Essential Medicines’ list and used in 98% of medical abortions in the US – more than two decades after it was granted. Because abortion pills are safe, easily accessible and require minimal assistance from medical professionals, they are a key tool to fight back against the right-wing assault on abortion rights. 

Any injunction, even temporary, would immediately curb access to life-saving healthcare to millions, particularly in states where abortion pills obtained across state lines remains the only viable option to circumvent mounting hurdles to accessing care. 

A dangerous judge 

The challenge was carefully curated by the far right, launched in a district presided over by Matthew Kacsmaryk, a Trump appointee who has called being transgender a “mental disorder”. The first federal judge to have gone directly from a religious liberty law firm to the federal judiciary, Kacsmaryk has already done much to vitiate protections for women and gender non-conforming people, including halting a federal program that allowed minors to receive birth control without their parents’ consent and blocking the enforcement of rules that sought to protect transgender people from healthcare discrimination. 

Kacsmaryk has taken unprecedented steps to obfuscate the public’s ability to mobilise in response to the hearing, refusing to publicise the date and time until it was leaked in the media. Despite Kacsmaryk best efforts, hundreds of activists mobilised, including some dressed as Kangaroos in protest of the “Kangaroo Court” presiding over the case, with women and pregnant people’s lives hanging in the balance. If this is any indication of what’s to come, there is much to be concerned about.

A nationwide movement needed

The nationwide ban would leave women and pregnant people with significantly reduced access to safe medical abortions by pills – in some cases limiting options to surgical abortion – even where abortion is entirely legal. Misoprostol-only (the second abortion pill) abortions are possible, but they are less effective and are more physically painful. Quelle surprise, the misogynists want women to suffer! 

This lawsuit is yet another limb of the far-right’s nationwide strategy to gut abortion protections at every level – from local restrictions to complete bans with no exception, including for rape, already rolled out in 13 states. Even in states like New York (NY), where abortion is protected by the state constitution, Republicans continue to introduce anti-choice legislation at the local level – awaiting an opening to repeal statewide protections. Just this month, the U.S. Court of Appeals reversed a NY District court decision, allowing an anti-abortion organisation to challenge a NY law prohibiting employers from discriminating against employees based on their views on abortion – a decision that would open the door to employment discrimination and healthcare carve-outs in every state in the country.

Attacks like these clearly illustrate the deep vulnerability of abortion protections in post-Roe America. Only a mass, nationwide movement fighting for free, safe and legal abortion for all can yield changes that guarantee bodily autonomy to people of all genders. With the anti-feminist backlash in full swing as part of the maelstrom of crises facing the capitalist system, it’s clear that this movement must be inextricable from the broad and urgent working-class and socialist struggle to save the planet and liberate humanity as a whole.

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