Appeals Court Upholds Limited Restrictions Of Chemical Abortion Pills

Kate Anderson 

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upheld a previous ruling that placed some restrictions on access to the abortion pill mifepristone, according to an order released Wednesday.

The court declined to take the abortion pill mifepristone and its generic version mifeprex completely off the market, despite concerns from pro-life medical professionals that the drugs were harmful to women, according to the order. The court did, however, agree with a decision made in April by U.S. District Court Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk of Texas that the easing of restrictions approved by the FDA in 2016 and 2021 should be halted until further review by the Supreme Court.

“After extensive briefing and oral argument, we hold that the district court’s stay order should be VACATED in part and AFFIRMED in part,” the order reads. “We conclude that the Medical Organizations and Doctors’ claim as to the 2000 Approval is likely barred by the statute of limitations. Accordingly, that component of the district court’s order must be VACATED. This means that, until final judgment, Mifeprex will remain available to the public under the conditions for use that existed in 2016.”

The Fifth Circuit’s decision will not go into effect until the Supreme Court decides whether or not it will take up the case after issuing an emergency order to keep the drug available to the public in April.

The judges voted 2 to 1 that mifepristone and mifeprex should remain on the market, despite Judge James Ho arguing that the drugs should not have been approved to begin with, according to the order. The judges voted unanimously that the FDA’s updated changes to the drug’s access in 2016, such as sending the pills through the mail or allowing an approved pharmacist to dispense the pills, should not be allowed.

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