Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said on Sunday that “everything is on the table” following a Texas federal judge’s ruling to suspend the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the abortion drug mifepristone.
In an interview with CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union,” the secretary wouldn’t say whether she believes the FDA should control and ignore the drug on the market, but she said the Biden administration is considering everything.
“We don’t want the courts to overturn this reckless decision,” Becerra said, adding that the Supreme Court’s intervention was “good luck” but declining to say how, exactly, the administration will handle the interim government.
“Everything is on the table. The president said he was going to come back when the Dobbs decision came out. Every option is on the table,” the secretary told Bash, referring to last year’s Supreme Court ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade.
Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, in a distinct view of the “State of the Union”, did not back down from her call on CNN on Friday to ignore the ruling, saying that if it was finally accepted by the Supreme Court, “it would by itself introduce a national abortion ban.”
“I don’t believe the court has the power over the FDA that they just claimed, and I believe it’s creating a crisis,” Bash said.
Ocasio-Cortez called the ruling “an extreme abuse of power” and said it was an example of the executive branch ignoring judicial decisions.
“I think about the actual possibilities in the coming days, weeks and months when the game happens, it’s not just about speculation, it’s about preparation. But the reality of our courts is now very disturbing,” he said.
Meanwhile, Republican Rep. Tony Gonzales of Texas warned in a separate interview with Bash on Sunday that House GOP appropriators could defund certain FDA programs if the ruling is ultimately ignored.
“House Republicans have the power of the purse, and if they don’t want to lead this administration, they don’t want to live to govern this, they have a problem,” said the second-term attorney. “And it’s coming up where House Republicans on the appropriations side have programs to defund the FDA that don’t make sense.”
U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk ruled on Friday that mifepristone testing would be halted for decades, but he stopped short of ruling that it would take effect for a week to appeal the pending process.
“This is not America,” Becerra said Sunday. “What you have seen is one judge in one court in one state, it is not America. It follows the testimony of America. America does what is beautiful. America makes it transparent, and we can show what we’re doing for the right reasons. That is not America. ”
Within an hour of Friday’s ruling, another federal judge ruled in favor of 17 Democratic-led states and Washington, D.C., hoping to expand access to abortion pills by allowing the drug to remain available.
Becerra on Sunday touted the safety of the drug, a factor that Kacsmaryk questioned in ruling. He confirmed that the Department of Justice has already filed an appeal and is awaiting his day in court.
Still, Becerra had little to say about the tangible preparations the administration would have to approach to procure an abortion if the drug was no longer available after a week’s interval.
“Well, [women] we certainly have access today and we intend to do everything to make it available to them not only during the week but going forward,” Becerra told Bash when asked if women would have access to medicine after this week.
The Department of Justice and Danco, the manufacturer of mifepristone, which intervened in the case to defend the evidence, have both filed notices of appeal. Attorney General Merrick Garland and Danco said in statements that in addition to the appeals they are seeking “stays” of the order, emergency requests meaning that the plan remains frozen while the appeal progresses.
The 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals is sometimes called the country’s most conservative court of appeals. However, some legal scholars are skeptical that the 5th Circuit, as conservative as it is, will enforce Kacmsaryk’s order.
“We believe Dana, the court of appeals, the Supreme Court, whatever the court understands, this ruling by this one judge not only to access mifepristone, but possibly any number of drugs,” said Becerra.