On Wednesday, March 15, a federal district judge in Amarillo heard arguments in a lawsuit that aims for a nationwide ban on mifepristone. Mifepristone is the most widely used, safe and effective drug used in medication abortions—the majority of all abortions—and it is now on the chopping block. (The lawsuit was initiated by the Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine, an anti-abortion coalition, against the Food and Drug Administration [FDA], the federal agency that tests and approves prescription medications.)1
And this is not just any judge—Matthew Kacsmaryk is himself a hardcore Christian fascist whose entire career has been focused on stripping women and LGBTQ people of their fundamental rights, including same-sex marriage, transgender rights, abortion, and birth control. (Learn more about Kacsmaryk here.) So in spite of the weak and dishonest arguments the Alliance is putting forward, there is a very strong possibility that Kacsmaryk will rule completely, or at least partially, in their favor.
Here’s how confident the fascists are: they are already trying to get a preliminary injunction so that mifepristone will be banned immediately, that is, before the trial is conducted and the verdict issued. Wednesday’s hearing was to discuss this motion.
Kacsmaryk attempted to keep this hearing secret to avoid press and protests. In the end, a small number of reporters and public were allowed in. Their reports indicate that Kacsmaryk seemed to take the arguments for a preliminary injunction very seriously, while also exploring possible legal barriers to granting it.
Mifepristone Is Overwhelmingly Safe; It’s the Christian Fascists That Endanger Women
The core argument of the suit is the claim that nearly 23 years ago the FDA rushed mifepristone through the testing and approval process. The Alliance claims that the drug is unsafe and approval should be withdrawn… to protect women! At the hearing, an Alliance attorney asked: “How many women must die or come close to death before the FDA takes mifepristone off the market?”
This is some cynical, lying BS!
First of all, clinical trials, with 2,100 women using mifepristone, began six years before it was approved. This was the beginning of a long testing process more rigorous than most other drugs.
Second, since the approval, this drug has been used by about five million women. In that time the FDA reports 28 deaths “associated with” (not necessarily caused by) mifepristone—one death for every 179,000 abortions! By comparison, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) the U.S. maternal mortality rate is 32.9 per 100,000 live births. So giving birth is roughly 50 times more dangerous than mifepristone. And the FDA also reports a very low rate of serious side effects.2
The real “danger” the fascists are concerned with is that currently, medication abortion enables women to have some control over whether, when and with whom they will have children, even in states that ban abortion. This motivation is underscored by the fact that 22 Republi-fascist state attorneys general filed a brief supporting the Alliance suit, arguing (along with “safety” concerns and other bogus arguments) that the national availability of mifepristone makes it hard for them to maintain a watertight ban on abortion in their states.
And the real danger to women is not mifepristone—it is the relentless campaign of Christian fascist forces to strip women of control of their own lives and reduce them to second-class citizens.
A decision on the motion for a preliminary injunction could come any day. Even if Kacsmaryk rejects that motion, he may very well still rule in favor of banning mifepristone permanently. An attorney with the Center for Reproductive Rights summed up that this “would amount to a nationwide ban on medication abortion, and patients who seek this care would not be able to get this care from any pharmacy, or any prescriber or any provider.”
Because We Don't Have to Live This Way
Because We Don't Have to Live This Way
More Attacks Barreling Down the Pipeline
But as bad as that would be, this is far from the only attack on abortion rights right now.
On March 17, Wyoming banned all medication abortions. And on March 19, a separate bill went into effect making doctors liable for felony charges for performing clinical abortions. In Texas, a proposed bill would not only ban medication abortions, but would require internet service providers to block websites providing information about medication abortions.
An extremely disturbing trend is attempts in a number of states to equate abortion of a fetus with murder of a human being. At least one bill recently introduced in South Carolina would impose sentences of 30 years or even the death penalty on women for having abortions. According to the Guardian, at least four other states—Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Kentucky—are considering bills that would propose homicide or other criminal charges against women seeking abortions. In most of these states homicide can be punishable by death, but it is not clear yet if any or all of these bills treat abortion as a death penalty offense.
To be clear, none of these bills has passed so far, and it is possible that none will in the short run. At this time, these bills remain controversial among the Christian fascists. But the very fact that these bills are being proposed and debated is an indication of what direction things are headed.
Another pathway for equating abortion with murder—and punishing people accordingly—is through lawsuits. In Texas, powerful Christian fascists (including the former Texas solicitor general) are representing and in other ways backing a woman’s ex-husband in filing a “wrongful death” lawsuit for his ex-wife’s medication abortion. He is suing two of her friends for giving her advice about abortions, as well as another woman who provided the medication. The ex-husband is demanding a million dollars from each of them, and the lawsuit refers to those three women and his ex-wife as “murderers” (or similar terms) 28 times.
Whether or not this suit succeeds, the intimidation effect of suits like this—dragging people into court, forcing them to hire attorneys, defaming them publicly—is huge. The effect is to terrorize anyone seeking, or even thinking about, an abortion, and to isolate them from friends and medical personnel who are now subject to being sued as well.
“Forcing Women to Have Children Against Their Will Is a Form of Enslavement… We Need REVOLUTION”
Responding to this escalation in the war on abortion rights, Sunsara Taylor (a follower of Bob Avakian and key co-initiator of Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights), said the following:
A system that allows Christian fascist theocrats to capture the Supreme Court, overturn women's fundamental right to abortion, and go on to further restrict, shame and punish women's access to abortion—on top of all the other ways that women are oppressed, demeaned and degraded—is completely illegitimate. Forcing women to have children against their will is a form of enslavement!
No one should accept this, and we do not have to. Through a real revolution that overthrows this system, we can bring about a radically new society that not only immediately guarantees the right to abortion and birth control, but is working to bring into being a society, and ultimately a world, free of all forms of slavery, all exploitation and oppression based on class, race, sex and gender, and all relations in which one part of humanity oppresses another. This revolution is not only urgently needed and possible—right now, because of the way that long-established norms and rights like that to abortion are increasingly being shattered and society is being ripped apart—this revolution is more possible than it has been in many years.
But only if we fight for it. Now is the time for everyone who cares about women and girls and justice overall to lift your sights to this revolution, to learn about it and the leadership we have for it in Bob Avakian, and to spread this to others. We must do this as we unite with all who can be united from different perspectives to stand up now and fight this escalating assault on women's right to abortion and their very humanity.
Forced Motherhood Is Female Enslavement
Legal Abortion on Demand and Without Apology!
Break the Chains! Unleash the Fury of Women as a Mighty Force for Revolution!