Federal court restricts access to abortion pill Mifepristone, drug remains available


A federal court of appeals on Wednesday ruled to keep the abortion pill Mifepristone available but placed restrictions on the drug.

The decision came from three judges on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans on Wednesday, and overturns portions of a previous ruling while leaving others in place.

The ruling ends the availability of Mifepristone by mail, requires that it is administered in a physician’s presence, and also states that the drug can be used through the seventh week of pregnancy, versus the previous 10 weeks.

While the court ruled in favor of the restrictions, they won’t take immediate effect as the Supreme Court previously issued an injunction, allowing access to the drug until the case is fully litigated.

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A box containing a Mifepristone tablet is seen at Blue Mountain Clinic in Missoula, Montana, U.S. February 28, 2023. (REUTERS/Evleyn Hockstein)

A U.S. District Court judge in Texas ruled last month against the Food and Drug Administration, stating that the approval process for the abortion drug was improper.

Alliance Defending Freedom, which filed the Texas lawsuit against the FDA’s approval of Mifepristone, said in a statement that the Wednesday decision is a “victory for women’s health.”

“The 5th Circuit rightly required the FDA to do its job and restore crucial safeguards for women and girls, including ending illegal mail-order abortions,” said ADF Senior Counsel Erin Hawley, vice president of the ADF Center for Life and Regulatory Practice. “The FDA will finally be made to account for the damage it has caused to the health of countless women and girls and the rule of law by unlawfully removing every meaningful safeguard from the chemical abortion drug regimen.”

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Abortion pills

FILE – Boxes of the drug mifepristone sit on a shelf at the West Alabama Women’s Center in Tuscaloosa, Ala., March 16, 2022. Abortion providers in three states filed a lawsuit Monday, May 8, 2023, aimed at preserving access to the abortion pill mifepristone, even as the drug is threatened by a separate Texas lawsuit winding its way through U.S. court system. (AP Photo/Allen G. Breed, File) (AP Photo/Allen G. Breed, File)

Judge Jennifer Walker Elrod wrote in the ruling that “In loosening mifepristone’s safety restrictions, the FDA failed to address several important concerns about whether the drug would be safe for the women who use it.”

A Department of Justice spokesperson said in a statement that it “strongly disagrees” with the decision and will be seeking a Supreme Court review.

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mifepristone pill

Attorneys general in twelve Democratic-led states sued the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, challenging their restrictions on the distribution of mifepristone, an abortion pill, alleging that they aren’t supported by evidence. (Reuters)

“As the Attorney General has said before, the Justice Department is committed to defending the FDA’s scientific judgment and protecting Americans’ access to safe and effective reproductive care,” a DOJ spokesperson said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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