Woman arrested for threatening to kill Texas federal judge in abortion pill case

By Brendan Pierson

(Reuters) - A woman was arrested in Florida on Wednesday on charges that she threatened to kill a Texas federal judge who earlier this year suspended approval of the abortion drug mifepristone, according to court records.

Alice Marie Pence placed a call from Florida to the chambers of a federal judge in Amarillo, Texas, federal court around March 12 and threatened to kill him, according to a grand jury indictment. Though he was not named in the indictment, the only federal judge in Amarillo is U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk.

Pence is charged with one count of threatening interstate communication and one count of influencing a federal official by threat. The indictment, filed in Kacsmaryk's court, says the threat was in retaliation for the judge's performance of his official duties.

A lawyer for Pence could not immediately be identified. Kacsmaryk and a spokesperson for Texas federal prosecutors did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Kacsmaryk held a hearing on anti-abortion groups' bid to ban mifepristone on March 15. He had told lawyers in the case before the hearing that his chambers had received death threats.

Kacsmaryk suspended mifepristone's approval in April, effectively banning the drug. However, his order is on hold while the Biden administration appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court, and mifepristone remains available.

Amarillo federal court has become a favored venue for socially conservative groups because it ensures their cases will be heard by Kacsmaryk, a staunch conservative and former Christian activist.

Mifepristone has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use along with another drug, misoprostol, to end pregnancy within the first 10 weeks.

(Reporting by Brendan Pierson in New York and Nate Raymond in Boston; Editing by Richard Chang)