A three-judge panel comprising Judges James Ho and Cory Wilson, appointed by then-President Donald Trump, and Judge Jennifer Walker Elrod, appointed by then-President George W. Bush, on Wednesday appeared to support claims that the conscience and religious rights of anti-abortion physicians are harmed by the FDA’s nearly 23-year-old approval of mifepristone.

Ho rebuffed attorneys for the Department of Justice and Danco Laboratories, a maker of mifepristone, urging a focus on “the facts of this case” rather than “this sort of ‘FDA can do no wrong’ theme.” He questioned whether the FDA erred in approving the medication through an expedited process typically reserved for treatments for serious illnesses. “Pregnancy is not a serious illness” he said. “When we celebrated Mother’s Day, were we celebrating illness?”

KFF Health News senior correspondent Sarah Varney joined PBS NewsHour’s Geoff Bennett and Stephen Vladeck, a professor at the University of Texas School of Law, to discuss the legal arguments that piqued the judges’ interest and how the case could affect the availability of mifepristone around the country.

By Sarah Varney, KFF Health News
Kaiser Health News is a nonprofit news service covering health issues. It is an editorially independent program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, which is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.