The GOP is not celebrating their 'win' on abortion drug ban
The GOP is reaping what they sowed in the wake of the decision by the extremist district court judge in Texas, Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, to block the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the abortion pill mifepristone. A baldly activist forced birther judge overturning 117 years of the FDA’s authority to regulate drugs in a lawless, unprecedented, and deeply flawed decision is causing no little heartburn for Republicans, who are finally seeming to get that they are very much on the losing side politically in this fight and have no idea how to get out of it.
There’s been a wall of silence from Senate Republicans on the decision, with the exception of just two members: the sole GOP senator who voted against confirming Kacsmaryk, Maine’s Susan Collins, and the unabashedly extreme Cindy Hyde-Smith from Mississippi who applauded the decision
“In 2019, I voted against Judge Kacsmaryk’s confirmation, and I disagree strongly with his decision in this case,” Collins said Monday. “Mifepristone is an FDA-approved drug that has been on the market for more than two decades and extensively studied.” Hyde-Smith tweeted her glee, and her ignorance: “Today’s ruling on abortion drugs is a victory for pregnant mothers & their unborn children. I’m grateful the Court reined in the @US_FDA for recklessly violating the law & jeopardizing patient safety.” In case you’re wondering, no, the FDA did not break any laws 23 years ago when it approved the drug.
The rest of the Senate GOP are absolutely mum.
HuffPost contacted the offices of all 38 of the senators who voted for Kacsmaryk and none of them responded, despite the fact that they got what they wanted in Kacsmaryk. It’s not like his credentials as a wild-eyed forced birth anti-LGTBQ+ bigot were a big secret when his nomination came before them. But they really, really don’t want to talk about the reality of it all, the fact that Kacsmaryk was confirmed by them for any reason other than crass, extreme politics perfectly willing to embarrass them all with a really, really bad and lawless ruling.
The usual suspects among House Republicans don’t give a damn about any of that. They are so gung-ho, dozens of them filed an amicus briefasking the appeals court to affirm Kacsmaryk’s ruling (along with 11 GOP senators who prefer to keep their opinion on the ruling hidden in court documents).
“The FDA’s (Food and Drug Administration) unlawful approval and deregulation of chemical abortion drugs subverts Congress’ public policy considerations and safeguards for patient safety,” the lawmakers wrote to the court. Again, the FDA acted entirely within the law when it approved mifepristone back in 2000. It’s actually pretty scary that so many lawmakers have absolutely no idea what law is.
They urged the court to uphold the ruling and move to immediately ban the drug to “protect women and girls from the harms of chemical abortion drugs,” which is also not a thing. The drug is safer than many prescription and over the counter drugs, including Tylenol and insulin. Also, if they really gave a damn about the safety of women and girls, they’d be doing something about the guns that are slaughtering them every day.
For the most part, though, Republicans from the House all the way to presidential contenders are just not talking about it, which the forced birth movement has noticed and is trying valiantly to explain away. “Everyone was at church on Friday night when the decision came out,” Katie Daniel, the state policy director at Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, toldSemafor. “That could be part of it.” Sure Katie, church. Where they’ve apparently all been ensconced since.
The GOP’s reticence to weigh in might also have something to do with their friends in the pharmaceutical industry, which reacted to this with appropriate horror. They immediately responded to the ruling with an open letter siding with the FDA, spearheaded by Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla; Alisha Alaimo, president of Biogen; Christopher Tan, an executive for Merck & Co.; Imran Nasrullah, a vice president for Bayer Pharmaceuticals; and a senior clinical leader at Novartis, Nancy Lewis. Hundreds of pharmaceutical and biotech companies have signed on.
They call out Kacsmaryk as an activist judge who has "no scientific training," and who "ignores decades of scientific evidence," that has proven mifepristone to be "safer than Tylenol, nearly all antibiotics and insulin." They call for the ruling to be reversed, saying it “set a precedent for diminishing FDA’s authority over drug approvals, and in so doing, creates uncertainty for the entire biopharma industry.”
“As an industry we count on the FDA’s autonomy and authority to bring new medicines to patients under a reliable regulatory process for drug evaluation and approval. Adding regulatory uncertainty to the already inherently risky work of discovering and developing new medicines will likely have the effect of reducing incentives for investment, endangering the innovation that characterizes our industry,” the letter says.
Well that’s kind of a problem for Republicans, isn’t it. The pharmaceutical industry spent $15.6 million in GOP campaign contributions in 2022, and is already much more supportive of Democrats, who got $23.6 million. The forced birth movement, however, coughed up just $1.2 million for the GOP last year.
Maybe this time one of their pet judges went just a little too far.
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