AUSTIN, Texas — The Justice Department on Monday called a Texas court ruling that would halt approval of the most commonly used method of abortion in the U.S. “extraordinary and unprecedented” while asking a federal appeals court to put the decision on hold.
The request to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was filed just days after conflicting court rulings over the legality of the abortion medication mifepristone put in doubt access to the drug that has been widely available for more than 20 years.
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U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, an appointment of Donald Trump, issued his decision Friday but ruled it would not take effect for seven days.
His decision came at nearly the same time a separate federal judge in Washington directed U.S. authorities not to make any changes that would restrict access to the drug in at least 17 states where Democrats had sued.
The Food and Drug Administration approved the use of mifepristone in 2000.
The Biden administration asked the New Orleans-based appellate court to extend a pause on the Texas order.
“The court’s sweeping nationwide relief was especially unwarranted given the balance of harms: If allowed to take effect, the court’s order would thwart FDA’s scientific judgment and severely harm women, particularly those for whom mifepristone is a medical or practical necessity,” the Justice Department wrote.
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The whiplash of the conflicting decisions is likely to put the issue on an accelerated path to the Supreme Court.