By Katarina Sousa
A soon-to-be-decided lawsuit could have major repercussions for abortion access nationwide. The plaintiffs bringing this case contend that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration was wrong to have approved a drug used in medication abortion, mifepristone, in 2000. The plaintiffs claim to have concerns about the safety of the medication. But this lawsuit has little to do with the actual safety of this widely-studied and trusted medication. Rather, the suit has everything to do with imposing one narrow religious doctrine on everyone, in violation of the separation of church and state.
The plaintiffs in this case are represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a notorious Christian Nationalist legal group with a long history of anti-LGBTQ+ and anti-abortion advocacy. One of ADF’s recent endeavors is the 303 Creative case, where it is misappropriating the protections of religious freedom to justify businesses discriminating against LGBTQ+ individuals.
In Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine v. U.S. FDA, anti-abortion groups are seeking to make mifepristone unavailable nationwide. Mifepristone is a medication taken in combination with misoprostol in a medication abortion, increasing access to those who otherwise may not be able to receive an abortion. Despite the prevalence of peer-reviewed studies affirming the safety of mifepristone, as well as weak legal standing of the plaintiffs to bring this case, reproductive rights activists are still worried that anti-LGBTQ, anti-abortion, Trump-appointed Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk could issue a ruling that would pull mifepristone off the market across the country.
The Forces Behind The Lawsuit
The ADF is representing four organizations and four physicians in this lawsuit brought against the FDA. These plaintiffs include the Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine, the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American College of Pediatricians (another conservative anti-LGBTQ+ group), and the Christian Medical and Dental Association. The Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine serves as an umbrella group, its membership including the above organizations in addition to the Catholic Medical Association and the Coptic Medical Association of North America. Each of these organizations has a long history of working to limit access to abortion care and impose their beliefs on others. It comes as no surprise that all but one of these organizations filed anti-abortion friend-of-the-court briefs in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case. Most notably, the Christian Medical and Dental Association specifically utilizes religious imagery in their argument against abortion submitted to the Supreme Court.
Undermining medication abortion is part of the larger Christian Nationalist attack on not just abortion rights nationwide but on equality and bodily autonomy for all. The private rights of individuals to decide if they want to carry a pregnancy should not be controlled by religious groups or judges.
Katarina Sousa is a member of Americans United’s Youth Organizing Fellowship.