U.S. VP Harris to defend abortion pill facing legal attack

Kamala Harris

U.S. VP Harris to defend abortion pill facing legal attack

By Trevor Hunnicutt

WASHINGTON, Feb 24 (Reuters) – Vice President Kamala Harris is expected to offer a defense of the abortion drug mifepristone in a meeting on Friday, according to a White House official, as some activist groups work to end U.S. sales of the pill.

Anti-abortion groups have brought cases against the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) claiming the agency used an improper process to approve mifepristone in 2000 and did not adequately consider its safety for minors.

Medication abortion has drawn increasing attention since the U.S. Supreme Court last year reversed its landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling, which had guaranteed abortion rights nationwide. President Joe Biden, a Democrat, directed federal agencies to expand access to medication abortion in response to the decision, which has allowed more than a dozen Republican-led states to adopt new abortion bans.

Harris is meeting with reproductive rights groups on the topic at the White House and “will address attacks” on the drug, the “authority” of the FDA and women’s healthcare, the U.S. official said.

Administration officials fear that courts could disrupt access to the medication, which is also used to help women dealing with miscarriages.

Mifepristone is approved for medication abortion in the first 10 weeks of pregnancy in combination with another drug, misoprostol. Medication abortion accounts for more than half of U.S. abortions.

The FDA has said that pulling mifepristone from the market would force women to have unnecessary surgical abortions and greatly increase wait times at already overburdened clinics.

Major medical organizations, including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, weighed in on the side of the government, saying mifepristone “has been thoroughly studied and is conclusively safe.”

Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt; Editing by Leslie Adler

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