Court of Appeal says abortion pill can remain available but imposes temporary restrictions
A federal appeals court ruled late Wednesday that the abortion pill mifepristone can remain available, but judges blocked the drug from being mailed to patients and reversed other measures the government had taken to facilitate the access in recent years.
The three-judge panel said its decision would stand until the case is heard on appeal.
In its order, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit said that the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of mifepristone in 2000 could stand because too much time had passed for the Plaintiffs, a consortium of anti-abortion groups and physicians, are challenging that decision. decision.
But the court said it was not too late for plaintiffs to challenge a series of FDA actions from 2016 that lifted restrictions and made the pill easier to access for more people. patients.
These steps included not requiring the pill to be prescribed only by doctors, approving the use of the pill up to 10 weeks of pregnancy instead of seven weeks, and allowing the pill to be sent to patients instead of requiring it to be collected from a health care facility. supplier in person.
All of these restrictions have been temporarily reinstated. The Justice Department is likely to appeal the order to the Supreme Court.
Last week’s ruling by Judge Matthew J. Kacsmaryk of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas was a preliminary injunction that the FDA wrongly approved mifepristone 23 years ago. Judge Kacsmaryk, a Trump appointee who criticized Roe v. Wade, had suspended his prescription for seven days to give the FDA time to appeal.
The FDA had asked the appeals court to extend the stay beyond those seven days.
The appeal judgment partially granted this request. In the ruling, two Trump-appointed judges voted to reimpose some of the restrictions the FDA had eased in recent years. The third judge, appointed by President George W. Bush, said she would have essentially granted the entire request.
Mike Ives contributed report.