SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) – A federal judge in Washington state on Friday ordered U.S. authorities not to make any changes that would restrict access to the abortion medication mifepristone in 17 Democratic-led states that sued over the issue, countering a ruling by a judge in Texas on the same day that ordered a hold on federal approval of the drug.
The dueling decisions threw into question access to the nation’s most common method of abortion, one that scientists have approved for use for decades.
U.S. District Judge Matthew J. Kacsmaryk, a Trump administration appointee in Amarillo, Texas, signed an injunction directing the Food and Drug Administration to stay mifepristone’s approval while a lawsuit challenging the safety and approval of the drug continues. That ruling came in a lawsuit brought by the conservative group Alliance Defending Freedom.
In Washington state, Spokane-based Judge Thomas O. Rice, an Obama administration appointee, partially granted a request from 17 states and the District of Columbia. While the states sued in an effort to expand access to the pill, Rice did not go that far – instead, he blocked the FDA from making any changes to the drug’s access in the states that sued.