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Sen. Amy Klobuchar calls Texas judge's abortion pill ruling 'shocking'

Boxes of the drug mifepristone a shelf at the West Alabama Women's Center in Tuscaloosa, AL.
Allen G. Breed
Boxes of the drug mifepristone a shelf at the West Alabama Women's Center in Tuscaloosa, AL.

Updated April 10, 2023 at 12:08 PM ET

The future of access to abortion pills is uncertain after two federal judges issued a pair of conflicting rulings on Friday evening. A federal judge in Texas issued a ruling ordering the Food and Drug Administration to suspend its approval of the abortion pill mifepristone nationwide. A federal appeals court is expected to weigh in soon.

Within hours of the ruling by U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, another federal judge ruled in a separate case in Washington state. U.S. District Judge Thomas O. Rice ordered the FDA to preserve access to mifepristone in the case brought by Democratic attorneys general in 17 states and the District of Columbia. The impact of the ruling may become clear later this week.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) called a federal ruling that ordered the Food and Drug Administration to suspend its approval of mifepristone "shocking." She talked to NPR's Leila Fadel.

This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

Interview highlights

On why Sen. Klobuchar found the ruling shocking

What's shocking here is that one judge in Amarillo, Texas, should not be able to decide whether a woman in Montana or Wisconsin or every woman in the country can get the care they need. It's been on the market for more than 20 years after a four year approval process by the FDA, and it's used safely in over 60 countries.This is just another example of extremists trying to take away women's rights to make their own decisions about their health care. We think they should be able to make those decisions not. One judge in Amarillo, Texas, and certainly not politicians. But look, it's been clear that anti-abortion rights groups have been working to make abortion illegal for decades, which culminated in the overturning of Roe v Wade. They've been doing that work through the federal courts, which Senator Mitch McConnell helped to reshape with more conservative judges when he was majority leader.

On what Democratic lawmakers can do to counter the move

First you've got to fight it aggressively in the courts. There's a six year statute of limitations that covers when you can start appealing these things after they've been decided. This just hasn't been used in a way that he's used it before. Even his own lawyers challenging it noted that they hadn't seen anything like this before.

On what would happen if the case ended up at the Supreme Court

No one can predict. I just look at the facts here. I look at the fact that the American Medical Association, which isn't a radical group, they actually said immediately in a very strong statement, there is no evidence that people are harmed by having access to this safe and effective medication. We have got decades of proof to support that statement. There is a reason why judges don't usually enter these kinds of orders. Doctors and scientists make these decisions, not judges.

On the Democratic strategy in Congress when it comes to access to abortion

We just have put together that bill [The Women's Health Protection Act, which would codify abortion access]. After we did in the last Congress, the House under Democrats had voted for the bill before. So we'll keep pushing it. We also can push other votes on this, including the availability of this abortion drug. We have to be aggressive. But the people of this country have to be aggressive. Once again, we call on the people of this country to come out and say what they think, that this is an outrageous decision and that this judge in Amarillo, Texas, simply making decisions for the women of this country and it ultimately ends up in the election.

Simone Popperl, John Helton and Jacob Conrad edited the audio version. contributed to this story

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Leila Fadel is a national correspondent for NPR based in Los Angeles, covering issues of culture, diversity, and race.
Jan Johnson
[Copyright 2024 NPR]