This week, a federal magistrate will hear arguments in a case that could have a significant impact on the nationwide availability of medication abortions. Former President Trump selected a Texas judge to hear a challenge to the FDA’s 2000 approval of the drug mifepristone from the same group that helped challenge Roe v. Wade.
Wednesday, the case will be heard in Amarillo by U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, who initially delayed placing it on the public docket to reduce the risk of protests and threats. This was a highly unusual decision, given the presumption of openness in federal court proceedings, which are typically submitted to the public court docket as soon as possible.
The effects of a ruling against the FDA could take years to materialize and could affect states regardless of the legal status of abortion. In the United States, medication abortions now account for more than half of all abortions.
The hearing came to light after the Washington Post and a coalition of media outlets protested the delayed notification, contending that it amounted to an indirect courtroom closure. They noted that the U.S. Marshals Service has secured courtrooms in high-profile, potentially hazardous cases for a long time.
The FDA’s legal counsel, the United States Department of Justice, originally refused to provide even the most fundamental details about the hearing, leading some to question the FDA’s dedication to openness and accountability. Since then, the Justice Department has verified that the hearing will occur.