Democrats criticize Texas abortion verdict but Republicans remain silent 2023

On Friday, a conservative Texas judge issued an order that may stop clearance of medicine used in medication abortions by women nationwide, including in states with strong safeguards.

District Court Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk’s ruling might be the worst blow to abortion rights since the Supreme Court repealed Roe v. Wade last summer. That judgment upset the 2022 midterm elections, causing a backlash that helped Democrats win practically everywhere.

Kacsmaryk gave the federal government seven days to appeal, which the Justice Department and medication maker swiftly declared they would do. President Joseph Biden called the decision “another unprecedented step in taking away basic liberties from women and putting their health at risk” and warned that “political, ideological attacks” might weaken the Food and Drug Administration’s purpose.

In a related case launched by Democratic state attorneys general, a Washington state federal court determined Friday that the FDA could not restrict mifepristone availability.

The contradictory federal court findings may lead to a legal impasse before the US Supreme Court. The political repercussions is already apparent, with Democrats at every level of government saying that the Trump-appointed Texas judge’s order is terribly unfair and another move by anti-abortion Republicans to criminalize the practice statewide.

This long-brewing judicial clash comes days after Wisconsin voters flipped a state Supreme Court seat and control of the bench to liberals in a historically expensive election that largely hinged on abortion rights, and as political leaders in swing states around the country calculate its implications ahead of the 2024 elections.

“This does not only harm women in Texas,” Biden said Friday. “If it holds, it will bar women in any state from receiving the drug, regardless of whether abortion is permitted.

New abortion politics

Democrats and allied abortion activists slammed the Amarillo, Texas court and a judge the plaintiffs, backed by an anti-abortion organization, chose because of his abortion rights opposition on Friday evening.

“Today’s extraordinary judgment undermines the rights of women across to make decisions about their health care and access medicines recommended by their doctors,” Vice President Kamala Harris stated. “Simply put: this decision weakens the FDA’s capacity to approve safe and effective medications—from cancer treatments, asthma medicine, blood pressure tablets, and insulin—based on science, not politics.”

Republicans have been quieter, but this latest abortion rights defeat is another indicator of conservatives’ tightening control on the courts, an issue that might influence the 2024 election.

“Today’s verdict should make it apparent that GOP radicals have no intention of honoring our freedoms,” said NARAL Pro-Choice America President Mini Timmaraju.

Democratic leaders in many abortion-protected states said the Texas court decision will not hinder mifepristone access, but providers may interpret the findings differently.

Oregon’s Democratic attorney general, Ellen Rosenblum, said her agency was analyzing the orders but that this new abortion battlefront was just beginning.

Rosenblum tweeted, “Don’t get too sidetracked by the breaking news out of Texas — we earned a HUGE Victory in the case headed by Oregon and Washington (and supported by 16 other states). The eastern district of Washington federal court just approved our motion to protect Mifepristone availability awaiting our litigation.

Kacsmaryk’s verdict would end mifepristone’s two-decade approval. Even if it fails on appeal, his attempt to override FDA medical professionals over a medicine that has been safely and efficiently used for so long signals a perilous new chapter in post-Roe American politics.

Last June’s Supreme Court verdict in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization eliminated federal safeguards for women seeking the surgery, allowing Republican state legislatures and executives to adopt new limits or prohibitions. That was a historic conservative win, but it hurt Republicans in moderate and left-leaning areas in last year’s midterms.

“Dobbs was designed to let states regulate abortion. Now, unelected Republican judges decide for everyone. “That’s going to inspire people, especially those who are suffering the brunt of these anti-abortion verdicts for the first time,” said Data For Progress interim executive director Danielle Deiseroth.

Wisconsin voters elevated leftist judge Janet Protasiewicz to the state’s top court on Tuesday, demonstrating abortion politics’ power. Her triumph over a conservative judge backed with anti-abortion groups all but assured that Democratic Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul’s lawsuit challenging the state’s abortion restriction, a key selling point during his successful 2022 reelection quest, would succeed.

“Our state is taking a step forward to a better and brighter future where our rights and liberties will be protected,” Protasiewicz stated in her victory address this week.

Watch Biden and Trump.

The Texas ruling may potentially spark Democratic and Republican party discord. Liberal Democrats on Friday night urged the White House to ignore the directive and encourage the FDA to maintain its present posture.

New York Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez told CNN’s Anderson Cooper immediately after the verdict that the Biden administration should disregard it. The courts are eroding their credibility in unexpected and catastrophic ways.

Ocasio-Cortez cited Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden’s same comments.

“This tragic judgement has no foundation in law and will outlaw the most frequent form of abortion in EVERY state,” Wyden tweeted. “President Biden must defy this verdict and keep mifepristone on the market and available for every American woman.”

If he does not stand firm, Biden risks a party split. “Fight this ruling,” he said late Friday. Biden called it “the next significant step toward the national ban on abortion that Republican political leaders have sworn to make legislation in America,” but he did not immediately propose the FDA disregard it.

When the electoral reaction from Dobbs, which reversed Roe, grows, Republicans may clash.

Former President Donald Trump, again a major GOP candidate, has been mute on abortion issues. “People that campaigned so hard, for decades, against abortion, got their wish from the US Supreme Court and just plain disappeared, not to be seen again,” Trump said earlier this year.

In Michigan, a ballot proposition to legalize abortion, contraception, and miscarriage management passed. Democrats reelected Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Attorney General Dana Nessel, and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, and the state House and Senate switched parties.

But, limited access to an abortion drug used in over half of American abortions might undermine the legislation backed by over 57% of voters.

Nessel told CNN that the Texas lawsuit plaintiffs wanted one judge in one district of one state to make a ruling that would effect millions of individuals in all 50 states. “That’s terrifying.”

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