Top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer urged Republicans to speak out against a ruling from a “right-wing MAGA judge” in Texas suspending the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval of abortion pills or else be “complicit” in attacks on women’s health.
“They’re afraid to speak out. That is outrageous,” the Senate majority leader told HuffPost during a press call on Saturday. “They’re letting the MAGA extreme wing of their party run the whole show. They have an obligation to speak out, or they are complicit in taking away reproductive rights from tens of millions of Americans.”
In an unprecedented ruling late Friday, Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk held that the FDA “manipulated and misconstrued” certain parts of the drug approval process in 2000 in order “to greenlight elective chemical abortions on a wide scale.” The Department of Justice immediately filed an appeal directly to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, a conservative-dominated court.
Democrats said the ruling, if it goes into effect, would jeopardize the lives of millions of women and further threaten the FDA approval process for other drugs that conservatives may find objectionable.
“It is the next big step toward the national ban on abortion that Republican elected officials have vowed to make law in America,” President Joe Biden said in a statement on Friday, adding that the only way to deal with moves like these is “to elect a Congress who will pass a law restoring Roe v. Wade.”
Schumer said the Texas judge, a favorite of conservative legal groups, “completely eviscerated the FDA as we know it.” Then he asked: “What could come next if some fringe radical group brings a lawsuit, Cancer drugs, insulin?”
Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), who joined Schumer on the call, said the Texas ruling “did not happen by accident.”
“Republicans have meticulously plotted out every confirmation, every lawsuit, to get us to this point,” she said. “Republicans want to ban abortion everywhere, from Seattle to New York.”
Medication abortion is used for nearly 60% of all abortion and miscarriage care in the U.S. More than 100 studies have shown abortion pills to be safe.
In the same hour on Friday, a federal judge in Washington state issued a competing ruling that blocked the FDA from removing mifepristone from the market in 17 states and the District of Columbia, where abortion is currently legal. The contradictory rulings from two federal judges likely will result in a decision from the U.S. Supreme Court.
Few Republican lawmakers have addressed the ruling so far. However, Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) said she was “grateful” to the Texas judge for suspending an FDA approval from 23 years ago that she said had been “recklessly violating the law.” The Mississippi Republican was one of 13 GOP senators who signed an amicus brief in support of the Texas case halting approval of medication abortion.
There is ample evidence that the GOP’s continued embrace of abortion restrictions, even after the repeal of Roe v. Wade, has cost them at the ballot box. In 2022, Republicans won a much smaller-than-expected majority in the House and failed to capture a majority in the Senate after energized Democratic voters angry over abortion rights flooded the polls.
And just this week in Wisconsin, voters delivered a huge rebuke to Republicans over abortion restrictions in a hotly contested state supreme court race that tipped the balance of that in favor of liberals for the first time in nearly 20 years.