Congressional Democrats quickly condemned the decision Friday by U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump, to suspend the Food and Drug Administration’s longtime approval of the key abortion pill mifepristone, while top Republicans in Congress have yet to weigh in.
Kacsmaryk has given the government a week to appeal his decision, and President Joe Biden said his administration will file an appeal. If the ruling does eventually go into effect, it would curtail access to the standard regimen for medication abortion nationwide.
The top Democrat in the House, Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries of New York, said the "Extreme MAGA Republican assault on abortion care is spreading across America like a malignant tumor."
"A rogue Judge just suspended FDA approval of mifepristone," Jeffries tweeted. “We must all speak up, show up and stand up until the far-right uprising is peacefully and democratically crushed."
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., called the ruling "another massive step towards Republicans’ goal of a nationwide abortion ban," adding that it "could throw our country into chaos."
"This ruling from an activist judge is wildly out of step with the law and sets a dangerous new precedent," Schumer wrote in a statement on Twitter. "Senate Democrats are relentlessly working to protect a women's right to choose from this extreme MAGA Republican agenda."
Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., also took aim at Kacsmaryk and the GOP. “Republicans will never rest in their cruel, tyrannical quest to disrespect a woman’s right to choose,” she tweeted.
Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La., and Senate GOP Whip John Thune of South Dakota have remained silent on the ruling.
The FDA approved mifepristone more than 20 years ago to be used in combination with a second drug, misoprostol, to terminate pregnancies at up to 10 weeks. Over half of U.S. abortions are done by medication abortion, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights.
The pills have become increasingly significant in the fight over abortion access since Roe v. Wade was overturned in June.
While there is little legal precedent for a court to overturn the FDA’s approval of a drug, some abortion rights advocates were not surprised by the decision from Kacsmaryk, who earlier in his career represented a Christian conservative legal group, First Liberty Institute.
The group had sued the federal government challenging the part of the Affordable Care Act that required employers to provide free insurance coverage for birth control.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., also slammed Kacsmaryk. "One Trump-appointed judge in Texas thinks he knows better than decades of scientific evidence and ruled to block access to medication abortion nationwide," she tweeted. "Because of today’s lawless ruling, women could lose access to a safe and legal medication they’ve relied on for decades."
Sen. John Fetterman, D-Pa., echoed Warren's sentiments in a statement: “This ruling by a hard-right Trump appointed judge is simply bulls***."
Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., shared on Twitter images of what pregnancies look like at 6, 7, 8 and 9 weeks.
"Are those pictures of human beings? I don’t know. But I do know this: that decision should be made by the woman, not by GOP politicians or religious fanatic judges," he wrote.
Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., called the decision "another blow to the right to reproductive freedom from a Republican-appointed judge."
Biden has warned that the Texas ruling poses a risk to abortion rights nationwide, not just to women in Texas.
"If it stands, it would prevent women in every state from accessing the medication, regardless of whether abortion is legal in a state,” he said in a statement. “It is the next big step toward the national ban on abortion that Republican elected officials have vowed to make law in America.”