Actually, One Texas Judge Is Not the Final Decision-Maker on Medication Abortion

One district judge’s ruling does not have to affect the entire country.

FEB 28, 2023

All eyes in the fight over reproductive rights and justice have been focused on a federal judge in Amarillo, Texas. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk will soon decide a case involving the first drug in a medication abortion, mifepristone. Though the case makes wholly unpersuasive arguments, undermined by the facts and the evidence, plaintiffs filed in this specific court because Kacsmaryk is one of the most conservative judges on the federal bench and has an explicit and documented animus toward abortion. The expectation is that he will do everything in his power to end medication abortion as we know it. Because states like Texas have already banned abortion (including medication abortion), the deep fear is that his ruling could affect abortion care even in states where it remains legal.

But we would like to offer some clarification here. Because despite the barrage of predictions that this case could ban mifepristone and take it off the market, there are several basic legal principles suggesting that Judge Kacsmaryk’s power is limited and that a ruling for the plaintiffs will not necessarily change much at all with medication abortion.