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Appeals court backs abortion pill limits, setting up SCOTUS case

Aug 17, 2023

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Three judges on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans backed some limits on the abortion pill Mifepristone. However, the ruling on Wednesday, Aug. 16 cannot take effect until the Supreme Court weighs in.

The appeals court ruling partially overturned a lower court ruling that revoked the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval of the abortion pill. However, Wednesday’s ruling left the following limits in tact:

  • A ban on receiving Mifepristone by mail
  • A reduction in when Mifepristone can be taken from up to 10 weeks of pregnancy to up to seven weeks
  • A requirement that Mifepristone be taken in the presence of a doctor

The legal challenge to Mifepristone followed changes the FDA made in 2016 and 2021 to ease conditions for administering the abortion pill.

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

The Biden administration said it would appeal the decision with the Supreme Court, who has previously intervened to keep Mifepristone available during the legal battle. Abortion rights advocates said the ruling poses a major threat to abortion availability, as well as on the access of other medications.

“As I have continually said, this lawsuit is a threat to a woman’s freedom to make decisions about her own body and another step towards the ultimate goal of a nationwide abortion ban. 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 Wednesday. “Americans across the country should be able look in their medicine cabinets and know that FDA-approved medication prescribed by a doctor will remain available. This decision stands between doctors and their patients.”

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THE LEGAL SAGA OVER THE ABORTION PILL MIFEPRISTONE CONTINUES —
NOW THE SUPREME COURT IS GUARANTEED TO HAVE THE FINAL SAY.
THE LATEST RULING COMING FROM A FEDERAL APPEALS COURT WEDNESDAY —
WANTING ACCESS TO THE PILL TO BE **LIMITED —
AFTER FINDING THE F-D-A OVERSTEPPED ITS AUTHORITY IN THREE WAYS —
BY ALLOWING THE DRUG TO BE TAKEN LATE IN PREGNANCY —
ALLOWING THE DRUG TO BE **MAILED DIRECTLY TO PATIENTS.
AND HAVING MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS OTHER THAN DOCTORS PRESCRIBE THE PILL TO WOMEN SEEKING ABORTIONS.
WHILE THE RULING SEEKS TO LIMIT ACCESS TO MIFEPRISTONE —
FOR NOW — ACCESS WILL REMAIN **UNCHANGED.
THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT SAID IT WILL GO BACK TO THE SUPREME COURT TO APPEAL THIS LATEST RULING —
WHICH SETS THE HIGH COURT UP FOR A FINAL VOTE ON THE MATTER.