A federal appeals court ruled Wednesday to keep some of a lower court’s restrictions on mifepristone while rejecting an outright ban on it, though these cannot take effect unless approved by the Supreme Court.
The decision by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the lower court’s ruling which would have revoked mifepristone’s FDA approval. However, it opted to keep parts of the ruling that would bar it from being available by mail, require it to be administered in the presence of a physician and limit it to use by the seventh week of pregnancy instead of the tenth.
Mifepristone is used in the most common form of abortion in the U.S., and was first approved by the FDA in 2000. The only other abortion drug, misoprostol, is used to treat a wider range of conditions and could be switched to by healthcare providers if mifepristone becomes difficult to access. However, it is somewhat less effective than mifepristone.
The Supreme Court intervened in the same case earlier this year, keeping mifepristone accessible while the lawsuit goes on.
The Biden administration stated it would appeal the decision. “It endangers our entire system of drug approval and regulation by undermining the independent, expert judgment of the FDA,” Vice President Kamala Harris said in a statement.
The American Civil Liberties Union also opposes the restriction.
“If the Supreme Court affirms this decision, it will prevent patients from receiving their medication in the mail in all 50 states in the nation,” said ACLU Director of the Reproductive Freedom Project Jennifer Dalven. “That means that patients will have to travel often hundreds of miles, especially if they’re coming from a state that has banned abortion, for the sole purpose of picking up a pill.”
(Photo by Charlie Neibergall | AP)