Federal judge shares date of abortion pill hearing after media outlets criticize him for secrecy

FAN Editor

A federal judge in Texas publicly disclosed Monday afternoon that he scheduled a hearing in a case seeking to overturn the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the abortion pill mifepristone, after media outlets criticized him for attempting to keep the proceedings secret until the last minute.

Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk of the U.S. Northern District of Texas ordered oral arguments in the case to take place on Wednesday at 9 a.m. CT, according to a court filing. The hearing will take place in Amarillo, Texas.

Kacsmaryk was appointed by former President Donald Trump.

The Washington Post, citing people familiar with the matter, reported over the weekend that Kacsmaryk had set the hearing date during a conference call on Friday with lawyers involved in the case but did not plan to disclose the date until late Tuesday.

Media outlets filed a letter on Monday urging Kacsmaryk to disclose the date of the hearing immediately. The outlets included NBCUniversal News Group, of which CNBC is a part, The Washington Post, ProPublica, the Texas Press Association, and Gannett, among others.

A coalition of physicians who oppose abortion asked Kacsmaryk in November to order the FDA to withdraw its approval of mifepristone, which has been on the U.S. market since 2000. They argued that the way the FDA approved mifepristone violated federal law.

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The FDA has strongly disputed the group’s claims and warned that pulling mifepristone from the U.S. market would put women’s health at risk and dramatically harm the public interest. The agency’s lawyers said overturning the approval also would weaken the FDA’s authority.

“If longstanding FDA drug approvals were so easily enjoined, even decades after being issued, pharmaceutical companies would be unable to confidently rely on FDA approval decisions to develop the pharmaceutical-drug infrastructure that Americans depend on to treat a variety of health conditions,” the Biden administration lawyers wrote.

Mifepristone, used in combination with misoprostol, is the most common way to terminate a pregnancy in the U.S., accounting for about half of all abortions.

Disclosure: NBCUniversal is the parent company of CNBC.

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