APRIL 8, 2023, WASHINGTON—In response to the decision by Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk of U.S. District Court for the North District of Texas in Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine et al. v. U.S. Food and Drug Administration et al. ordering the FDA to rescind its approval of mifepristone, Rabbi Nancy Kasten, Texas Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism (RAC-TX) Leader, and Rabbi Marla J. Feldman, Executive Director of Women of Reform Judaism, released the following statement on behalf of the Union for Reform Judaism and Women of Reform Judaism:
Rabbi Nancy Kasten: “We denounce the decision in Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine et al. v. U.S. Food and Drug Administration ordering the FDA to stay its approval of mifepristone, which could remove mifepristone from the market nationwide. The full impact of this ruling remains unclear, as Judge Kacsmaryk paused his decision for seven days, and the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington subsequently issued a conflicting decision blocking the FDA from altering the status quo.
“While mifepristone remains accessible for now, Judge Kacsmaryk’s decision makes it clear that anti-abortion activists will not stop at overturning Roe v. Wade and will continue to advance an agenda that puts the health and safety of women and people who can get pregnant at risk. This attack on mifepristone is a politically-motivated effort to dismantle sexual and reproductive healthcare nationwide and is not based on science or fact—as mifepristone has been used by more than five million people in the U.S. to safely end very early pregnancies since it was approved more than 20 years ago.
“Over the last year and a half, we have seen the devastating impact of Texas’s S.B. 8 law and the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision, which allowed Texas’s trigger ban making nearly all abortions a felony, to take effect. As a result, Texans are being denied critical health care and are being forced to carry pregnancies, resulting in their facing a range of health threats including life-threatening conditions, or traveling out of state for care (an option often not available to low-income people, People of Color, and other marginalized groups). If upheld, Judge Kacsmaryk’s decision will not only exacerbate the reproductive healthcare crisis in Texas and other states where abortion is severely restricted but extend these deleterious impacts across the nation.
“Medication abortion is key to expanding access to reproductive healthcare, ensuring that doctors can apply their full professional expertise, patients can make their own private decisions about their lives and futures, and abortion stigma does not supersede the highest standards of patient care. We will continue to fight to protect and expand abortion access and reproductive healthcare nationwide.”
Rabbi Marla J. Feldman: “This unprecedented decision by a single judge in Texas is unconscionable and, if upheld, has the potential to compromise access to medication abortion across the country, both in states where Dobbs has enabled abortion to be placed out of reach for millions of people, and even in states where abortion is protected. We are also deeply concerned with how this decision might undermine and threaten the FDA’s approval process for medications, which could have profound consequences for patients’ access to other FDA-approved drugs.
“Jewish thought is clear when it comes to providing necessary medical care. The medieval Jewish philosopher Maimonides proclaimed that providing medical care is a fundamental religious duty. Inspired by our Jewish tradition, we are committed to ensuring that people have access to the full spectrum of abortion care options, and that everyone can make decisions about their own reproductive health and futures, including choosing the method of abortion that works best for them.
“As we await further developments in this case, mifepristone remains safe and accessible. We will continue to closely monitor this situation in the days and weeks to come. WRJ reaffirms its commitment to supporting efforts to preserve the bodily autonomy and moral agency of individuals and advocating for the broad spectrum of reproductive health, rights, and access.”
The Texas Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is a state project of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, the Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose nearly 850 congregations across North America encompass 1.8 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, whose membership includes more than 2,000 Reform rabbis. For more information, please visit www.RAC.org.
Women of Reform Judaism (WRJ) is a network of Jewish women working together to empower women and communities worldwide through the bonds of sisterhood, spirituality, and social justice. WRJ, founded in 1913, is the women's affiliate of the Union for Reform Judaism, the central body of Reform Judaism in North America. For more information about WRJ, please visit www.wrj.org.