A Texas judge on Friday handed down a ruling voiding FDA approval of an abortion drug.
Not only did it contain imprecise language, but it cited many incorrect studies, experts say.
One study was written by an author whose work has been pulled from reputable journals.
In an unprecedented ruling Friday night, a Texas federal judge sided with conservative and anti-abortion activists and sought to strip the key abortion drug mifepristone of its FDA approval.
The 67-page document, authored by right-wing Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, cites Wikipedia and is full of inaccuracies and falsehoods about the health effects of medical abortion, experts told Insider on Friday.
Kacsmaryk in the ruling cited multiple studies to support claims that have either been extensively scrutinized or do not hold up to scientific consensus.
“When you make a ruling that will impact people nationwide, hopefully that ruling will be evidence-based and look at the body of evidence instead of focused studies that don’t really align with the scientific consensus on the matter. ,” M. Antonia Biggs, Ph.D. and the ANSIRH social psychologist previously told Insider.
For example, one study, with ties to the anti-abortion nonprofit Charlotte Lozier Institute, relies on the anonymous experiences of users on a particular website. The study uses 98 blog posts made over the course of 10 years. The authors note that the small sample group is one of the limitations of the study.
Compared to the study, in 2020, 620,327 legally induced abortions were reported to the CDC.
However, despite the limited scope of the study, the conservative Christian judge writes that “eighty-three percent of women report that chemical abortion ‘changed’ them—and seventy-seven percent of those women reported a negative change”— citing the study of 98 anonymous blog posts.
In another example, the judge cites an analysis suggesting a link between negative mental health outcomes and abortion written by abortion researcher Priscilla Coleman whose study has been denounced by abortion researchers for years and whose other work was previously withdrawn from major journals.
Julia Steinberg, an expert on mental health and abortion, told Reuters in 2012 that most of the women in the study who experienced mental health problems after having an abortion had also experienced them before the abortion. The Guttmacher Institute also denied the study in a letter.
Another 2002 study, based on insurance records from Medi-Cal, California’s Medicaid program, says that low-income women who have abortions are more likely to commit suicide or die following an abortion.
A 2008 American Psychological Association task force noted that one of the multiple limitations of the 2002 insurance study was that it failed to account for the fact that low-income women, who likely already have health problems, may be more likely to choose the abortion. The study also did not find whether the abortions were performed for health reasons or were elective abortions.
“What we do know is that abortion does not increase people’s risk of having depression, anxiety, PTSD, suicidal ideation or substance use disorders, which is completely contrary to many of his claims,” she said in previously Biggs to Insider. “We also know that people don’t come to regret their abortions.”
Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, an advocacy group of public health professionals, told Insider the ruling was “worrying” because it was intended to undermine 20 years of clinical data on the safety of mifepristone and the FDA . expertise in drug approval.
“I think this opens the door for other people who are not happy with a properly and scientifically based determination to judge basically shop and find a judge who has a point of view, and in my opinion they are not really following the law as they should,” Benjamin told Insider.
Benjamin said the legal community has taken an “activist approach” when making decisions about judgments that will affect people’s health by “handpicking science” and “using very unique theories about agency authority.”
“If the judge thought there was something administratively wrong, he could have identified it and the administration certainly could have corrected it. But that’s not what he did. It actually put patients at risk. It created a lot of confusion. And We know there’s a reason the plaintiff sought out that judge. Because of his opinions.”
Benjamin stressed to Insider that mifepristone is safe and wanted people to consider Kacsmaryk’s past as the sentence was read out on Friday.
“Judge went to law school. Judge didn’t go to medical school. He doesn’t have a medical license. He hasn’t been examined by anyone for his medical opinion. So he’s really out of his lane, doing, essentially , a medical judgment that has been informed by really, really bad information.”
On Monday, Justice Department attorneys filed an urgent motion asking the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to stay Kacsmaryk’s sentence during the appeals process, arguing the case should never have gone forward.
The Justice Department argued that the plaintiffs in the lawsuit — an anti-abortion medical group — weren’t standing because they don’t use or prescribe mifepristone.
Instead, their argument is based on speculation – and absurdity: “that other doctors will prescribe mifepristone; that those doctors’ patients will experience extremely rare serious adverse events; that those patients will then seek out plaintiffs – doctors who oppose mifepristone and abortion – for treatment; and that they will do so in sufficient numbers to burden the plaintiffs’ medical practice.”
Kacsmaryk’s office did not immediately respond to an Insider’s request for comment. Coleman and the other researchers did not immediately respond to an Insider’s request for comment.
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