An Amarillo judge who will soon rule on a case that could undo federal protections for an abortion pill will begin hearing the case on Wednesday but reportedly meant to delay public notice to protect the safety of those involved.
U.S. District Judge Matthew J. Kacsmaryk will hear Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine v. U.S. Food and Drug Administration — a case that could remove FDA approval for a key ingredient of abortion pills known as mifepristone.
Kacsmaryk’s ruling could effectively halt abortion pills from being sold across the country.
He scheduled the first preliminary injunction hearing in the high-profile case for Wednesday but reportedly intended to delay publicizing the hearing. However, the date was leaked in a report from The Washington Post, which claimed to have spoken with people close to the situation.
On Monday, Kacsmaryk placed the hearing on the public docket after a coalition of media outlets filed an objection.
“The Court’s attempt to delay notice of and, therefore, limit the ability of members of the public, including the press, to attend Wednesday’s hearing is unconstitutional, and undermines the important values served by public access to judicial proceedings and court records,” the objection read.
“Across the ideological spectrum, the public is intensely interested in this case,” it continued. “The Court’s delayed docketing of notice of Wednesday’s hearing, and its request to the parties and their counsel not to disclose the hearing schedule publicly, harm everyone, including those who support the plaintiffs’ position and those who support the defendants’ position.”
Kacsmaryk held a conference call with attorneys on Friday to schedule the hearing, during which he said he would delay putting it on the public court docket until late Tuesday to reduce threats, protests, and other public disruptions, The Washington Post reported.
Hearings are traditionally placed on the public court docket, where anyone can view them online shortly after they are scheduled. Kacsmaryk also asked the attorneys not to share information about the hearing until it appeared on the docket, according to The Washington Post.
The judge reportedly said he also wanted to delay the publicization because members of the court have already been threatened as a consequence of this case.
“We recognize that some extremist abortion advocates have conducted numerous acts of violence at peaceful pregnancy help centers across the nation, and we hope that the court’s bailiffs will be well prepared for that threat,” said Joe Pojman, executive director of the Texas Alliance for Life, in a statement sent to The Dallas Express.
“The threat of violence should not distract from the issue of the lawsuit,” he continued. “The FDA improperly approved the chemical abortion drug without proper regard for the health and safety of women and young girls.”
Pojman also noted that “the outcome of this case will not change anything in Texas” because abortion in both surgical and chemical forms is illegal per the Texas Human Life Protection Act.
The Dallas Express reached out to Avow Texas, a pro-abortion advocacy group, for comment on the hearing and the case but did not receive a response by the publication deadline.