A federal judge in Texas overturned the two-decade-old approval of a safe and effective abortion pill on Friday, the latest volley in a conservative battle against reproductive rights in the United States.
If it stands, the ruling by a Donald Trump appointee would reverse permission granted by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for a drug widely used to terminate unwanted pregnancies.
The FDA and the Justice Department both filed appeals against the decision on Friday, with President Joe Biden pledging to “fight this ruling”.
“The lawsuit, and this ruling, is another unprecedented step in taking away basic freedoms from women and putting their health at risk,” he said in a statement.
But, in an illustration of how deep the fracture on abortion runs in US society, a judge in Washington state moments later ruled in a separate case that access to the drug must be preserved in more than a dozen states.
The dueling legal opinions, along with the appeals, means the issue is almost certain to end up before the Supreme Court.
The conservative-dominated panel last year overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling that had enshrined a woman’s right to abortion for half a century.
Reaction to the Texas ruling was swift.
Biden called it an ideological attack on women’s rights and freedoms.
“The court… has substituted its judgment for FDA, the expert agency that approves drugs,” he said. “If this ruling were to stand, then there will be virtually no prescription, approved by the FDA, that would be safe from these kinds of political, ideological attacks.”