Court officials in Amarillo, Texas, have released the transcript from this week's closely watched hearing in a federal lawsuit that could curb access nationwide to a drug that's used in nearly all medication abortions in the U.S.
Only a few dozen members of the public and the media were allowed inside the small courtroom on Wednesday presided over by U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, who has longstanding ties to conservative groups. The judge heard four hours of testimony from lawyers for a coalition of anti-abortion-rights groups called the Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine, which is challenging the drug's approval, and from government lawyers representing the Food and Drug Administration.
Recording also was prohibited in the courtroom, so this transcript is the first chance for most members of the public to learn directly what was said.
Kacsmaryk initially delayed announcing the timing of the hearing, according to a report by The Washington Post, but released that information on Monday in response to pressure from media organizations. The delay forced a scramble to try to reach Amarillo in time to be inside the courtroom.
The judge ultimately allowed an audio livestream of the hearing inside a federal courtroom in Dallas, but recordings were not allowed and the feed was not made publicly available.
The FDA approved mifepristone in 2000 for use in combination with a second drug to terminate first-trimester pregnancies. Abortion opponents have raised questions about the approval process for the drug, which medical groups say has a long-established safety record.
Kacsmaryk could order the drug to be removed from the market, or take a variety of other steps to restrict it. Whatever the result, an appeal is widely expected.