A federal judge in Texas is considering a lawsuit that seeks to overturn a decades-old approval of a key abortion drug.

Medical abortion is the country’s most common method for ending pregnancies, and the ruling could affect both states where abortion is banned and those where it is legal.

If the judge decides to revoke or suspend the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of mifepristone, Justice Department attorneys say it would upend reproductive care for women across the U.S.

U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, who was appointed by former president Donald Trump, said he would rule “as soon as possible,” though he did not specify a deadline or give a clear indication of which way he was leaning.

Revoking or suspending approval of a drug after more than 20 years would be an unprecedented challenge to the FDA, and if Kacsmaryk rules against the agency it’s unclear how quickly access to mifepristone could be curtailed or how the process would work.

More than a dozen states banned abortion after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last year.

Here are some background details and potential questions you can use in reporting on abortion in your state.


A total of 13 states now have active bans on abortion at any point in pregnancy as of March 20: Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, West Virginia and Wyoming.

Clinics have also stopped performing abortions in Wisconsin amid legal questions about a ban passed in 1849. North Dakota, moreover, no longer has any abortion clinics.

One more state, Georgia, bans it once cardiac activity can be detected, or at about six weeks’ gestation.

Two states, Florida and Arizona, ban abortion at 15 weeks of gestation, and one, North Carolina, bans it at 20 weeks gestation.

Nine states ban abortion at 22 weeks, and 19 ban it at some point later in pregnancy. The Supreme Court’s Roe decision previously protected abortion rights up to viability, about 24 weeks. It was overturned June 24.

Seventeen states and the District of Columbia have laws that protect abortion access, though they take slightly different forms, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a think tank that is pro-abortion rights and generally has the most up-to-date legislative data. An overview can be found here: https://bityl.co/C3sw


Wyoming has passed a law banning abortion pills that’s expected to take effect July 1. Another 15 states restrict access to medication abortion, according to Guttmacher. Those laws differ, and include requirements like medication abortion being provided by a physician or during in-person visit or a gestational age limit. See specifics here: https://bityl.co/HkeN


— To determine the local effect of the Texas lawsuit, reporters can reach out to abortion providers and pharmacies to see if they plan to continue distributing mifepristone if the judge rules against the FDA, or if they have other backup plans in place. Find additional information here: http://bit.ly/3FBQ9Lm

— Reporters can also ask local anti-abortion groups about how they’re hoping to see the lawsuit play out, and whether they’d consider a similar suit of their own.

— In states where abortion is legal, check on next steps in the legal process with attorneys general and local district attorneys. Ask about possible legislation from reproductive rights groups and lawmakers.

— In states where abortion is banned, in addition to gathering reaction from leaders reporters can ask about any potential consequences for people have the pills.

— Clinics in legal-abortion states that border states where it has been banned could be deeply affected by a ruling reversing approval, since they already began seeing more out-of-state patients after Roe was overturned. Reporters in those areas could gain unique insight by gathering reporting from those areas.

— Check with anti-abortion and abortion-rights groups about possible events or demonstrations.

— Talk to women who have had abortions or those who will be the most directly affected by strict limitations or an expansion of abortion access to get a sense of the real-world impacts. Find additional information here: http://bit.ly/3FBQ9Lm


Take care in describing positions on the issue: The AP Stylebook recommends using the modifiers anti-abortion or abortion-rights. Don’t use pro-life, pro-choice or pro-abortion unless they are in quotes or proper names. Avoid abortionist, which connotes a person who performs clandestine abortions.