Attorney Erin Hawley, wife of Missouri senator, fighting to end FDA approval of abortion pill

Jonathan Shorman, The Kansas City Star on

Published in Political News

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Erin Morrow Hawley, an attorney and wife of one of Missouri’s senators, is at the center of a federal lawsuit in Texas that could cancel approval of a common drug used to terminate pregnancies, threatening abortion across the country.

Hawley is one of the key lawyers fighting to end the Food and Drug Administration’s decades-old approval of mifepristone, one of the two drugs used in medication abortions, after the U.S. Supreme Court last year overturned Roe v. Wade. Hawley, an appellate attorney who was also involved in that case, is married to Republican Sen. Josh Hawley.

Whether or not Hawley and the other attorneys on the Texas case are successful, they are pushing the legal envelope following the end of Roe. Hawley is helping to pioneer a new frontier of abortion litigation targeting existing — sometimes longstanding — laws and regulations that help uphold abortion access.

Hawley is senior counsel at the Alliance Defending Freedom, which pursues lawsuits on behalf of social conservative causes. ADF helped draft a challenged Mississippi anti-abortion law that led to the decision overturning Roe.

The Hawleys have together worked to limit abortion in ways that complement each other. Sen. Hawley has previously sought to block judicial nominees he deems insufficiently anti-abortion. That’s helped shape the federal courts in ways that ultimately make it more receptive to lawsuits brought by Erin Hawley and other conservative attorneys.

The couple has at times cultivated a joint public image. The Hawleys in 2021 co-hosted a podcast, “This Is Living,” paid for by Sen. Hawley’s campaign, that explored issues like parenting and marriage. The last regular episode was posted in December 2021, but bonus episodes about the overturning of Roe v. Wade were released last July.


While Erin Hawley has been involved in the Texas lawsuit since it was filed in November, she took a more public role this week in the litigation, participating in oral arguments Wednesday in federal court in Amarillo, Texas, over whether Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump, should issue a preliminary injunction that could effectively end the use of mifepristone in abortion.

The lawsuit has been brought on behalf of Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine, a group of doctors objecting to the FDA’s approval of mifepristone. Hawley and other Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys are representing the Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine.

On Wednesday, Hawley told the court that doctors in this group have been forced to treat patients who have had complications and in some instances have had to use surgical procedures to complete abortions against their deeply held beliefs, NPR reported.

Hawley also argued that “agency gamesmanship” by the FDA through changing guidance about the drug and changes to its dispensing requirements had given the court an opening to reconsider FDA approval, the Texas Tribune reported.


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