• Show Notes

Dear Reader,

Do you want to hear a story?  It sounds a little bit like The Handmaid’s Tale, only it’s actually happening right now in the United States—in Texas, to be precise.  And it’s not just one story—it’s three different stories, each at the heart of three different lawsuits that, whether together or separately, have the potential to shape the future of reproductive rights in this country. 

The first case is the one that will likely have immediate, national implications.  Here are the details: Working with the Alliance Defending Freedom, a major conservative legal advocacy organization, a group that calls itself the Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine filed a lawsuit challenging the FDA’s process for approving mifepristone, one of the drugs in the two-drug medication abortion protocol.  Specifically, the Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine argues that the FDA did not adequately review the scientific evidence or follow proper protocols when it approved mifepristone . . . back in 2000.  Yes, the Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine is challenging a review process that took place more than twenty years ago.  To be sure, in 2000, the FDA approved mifepristone in an abbreviated process.  Which is to say the process was abbreviated largely because the FDA was not reviewing a blank slate—it was considering twenty years’ worth of data and testing that had been conducted in Europe as part of the EU’s approval process for mifepristone.  Further, in the twenty years since it approved mifepristone, the FDA has continued to review the medication’s efficacy and safety record—a point that the Justice Department, which is representing the agency in this lawsuit, says reaffirms the agency’s approval.

Of course, these pesky details do not matter to the Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine.  The group was hastily created in 2022, on the heels of the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, overturning Roe v. Wade.  Not only is the timing of the group’s founding significant—so is its location in Amarillo, Texas.  Amarillo is an unusual choice.  It’s hard to get to and it’s far from Texas’s major metropolitan areas—Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth, Austin, and San Antonio.  Indeed, none of the five anti-abortion groups that comprise the Alliance has any ties to Amarillo.  So, what explains the decision to site the Alliance there?  Erik Baptist, senior counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom, said that some of the groups’ members, and one of the four plaintiff physicians in the lawsuit, lives in the Amarillo area.  But it seems likely that the choice of Amarillo is also driven by more practical concerns.