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Massachusetts reproductive rights groups closely watching Texas anti-abortion lawsuit

Mifepristone, one of two FDA approved drugs that induce abortion.
Robin Marty
Mifepristone, one of two FDA approved drugs that induce abortion.

A federal judge in Texas, appointed by Donald Trump, is expected to rule soon on whether to take a Food and Drug Administration approved abortion pill off the market.

An anti-abortion group is suingover whether the FDA improperly approved mifepristone— more than 20 years ago.

Attorney Carrie N. Bakerwho teaches at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, said the judge can't remove a drug from the marketplace, though he can rule the FDA did the drug approval incorrectly.

"Then the FDA can say, 'Okay, we'll do it right,'" Baker said, "and there's a process for that and at the end of the day, it's FDA discretion as to whether a drug is safe or not, not some random judge in Texas."

A big risk, if the ruling against the FDA goes through, are cautious doctors where abortion is legal, Baker said.

"Doctors who are afraid of legal liability who immediately stop offering abortion pills," she said.

The point of the lawsuit is to cause chaos among patients and providers said Rebecca Hart Holder, President of Reproductive Equity Nowbased in Boston.

"It is unprecedented to have a judge revoke authorization [of an approved mediation]. So the FDA is going to have some difficult decisions to make about if and whether, or how and whether, to follow the judge's order," Hart Holder said.

Massachusetts health care providers have contacted her group concerned about what they'll be able to offer patients, Hart Holder said, and the lawsuit was meant to cause confusion.

"It was part of the anti-abortion movement's plan to ban abortion nationwide, and now anti-abortion extremists are trying to reach across state borders into states that have made it clear they will protect abortion access and to ban and restrict care," Hart Holder said.

Jill Kaufman has been a reporter and host at NEPM since 2005. Before that she spent 10 years at WBUR in Boston, producing "The Connection" with Christopher Lydon and on "Morning Edition" reporting and hosting. She's also hosted NHPR's daily talk show "The Exhange" and was an editor at PRX's "The World."

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