CV NEWS FEED // A federal appeals court ruled Wednesday night that the abortion-inducing drug mifepristone could remain in circulation, but kept restrictions in place that will sharply cut back its use in abortions. The Biden administration is now planning to appeal the new ruling to the Supreme Court.
“In a 42-page decision, a three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed to temporarily block the central aspect of a Texas-based federal judge’s ruling that suspended the FDA’s 2000 approval of the drug,” POLITICO reported. “But by a 2-1 vote, the panel permitted other aspects of that ruling to take effect that would block a seven-year effort by the FDA to widen access to the drug.”
In the initial ruling from the Amarillo-based Northern District of Texas, which the Biden administration quickly appealed to the 5th Circuit Court, Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk not only stayed the FDA’s September 2000 approval of mifepristone, but also stayed “all subsequent challenged actions related to that approval — i.e., the 2016 Changes, the 2019 Generic Approval, and the 2021 Actions.”
Those stays are vital enough to mifepristone’s increasing usefulness for committing abortions that the Biden administration is reportedly already planning to appeal the ruling, bringing it before the Supreme Court. Among other effects, the Wednesday decision will limit the use of mifepristone in abortions to seven weeks’ gestation. Most women only become aware of their pregnancies after six weeks.
“The Biden administration plans to issue an emergency appeal to the Supreme Court after a federal appeals court allowed a Texas judge’s ruling to severely restrict abortion pill access,” the Catholic News Agency reported:
On Thursday morning, the Biden administration announced it intends to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.
“The Justice Department strongly disagrees with the 5th Circuit’s decision in Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine v. FDA to deny in part our request for a stay pending appeal,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said. “We will be seeking emergency relief from the Supreme Court to defend the FDA’s scientific judgment and protect Americans’ access to safe and effective reproductive care.”
Unless the Supreme Court rules otherwise, these restrictions will take effect Saturday.
The restrictions left in place by the Wednesday ruling will likely lead to a further reduction in the United States’ abortion rate. So-called “medical” abortions, committed by the use of mifepristone, now make up more than half of all abortions nationwide. In addition, abortion groups and their allied lawmakers – including officials in the Biden administration – have pressed to increase the number of abortions committed via abortifacients prescribed online and sent to women by mail.
The Wednesday ruling will drastically curtail those aims. Again, from POLITICO:
Among the policies temporarily blocked by the appeals court’s decision: the FDA’s decision to expand mifepristone’s availability until the 10th week of pregnancy; authorization for retail pharmacies to dispense the drug; eliminating the requirement for in-person office visits to obtain a mifepristone prescription and allowing physicians to prescribe the pills via telemedicine; allowing non-physicians to prescribe or administer the drug; and ending a requirement for prescribers to report “non-fatal adverse events” related to mifepristone.