Federal Appeals Court Allows Abortion Pill Approval to Stand, With Restrictions

By Published on April 13, 2023

A federal appeals court has allowed the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the abortion pill to temporarily stand with some limitations.

The Biden administration appealed and filed an emergency motion with the Fifth Circuit shortly after Northern District of Texas Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk issued a preliminary injunction against the FDA’s approval of the drug on Friday, a decision the administration called “extraordinary and unprecedented.” In a 2-1 ruling issued late Wednesday night, the Fifth Circuit granted in part the motion for a stay pending appeal, narrowing the judge’s ruling to apply only to rules issued by the FDA prior to 2016.

After 2016, the FDA relaxed restrictions on the pill, allowing it to be distributed via mail and extending the latest point in pregnancy when it can be used from seven to 10 weeks.

“At this preliminary stage, and based on our necessarily abbreviated review, it appears that the statute of limitations bars plaintiffs’ challenges to the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of mifepristone in 2000,” the ruling states. “In the district court, however, plaintiffs brought a series of alternative arguments regarding FDA’s actions in 2016 and subsequent years… As to those
alternative arguments, plaintiffs’ claims are timely.”

The president of Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the group representing the plaintiffs — Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine, the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American College of Pediatricians, the Christian Medical & Dental Associations, along with several doctors — said the decision is “a step forward for the rule of law.”

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“Critical safeguards removed by the @US_FDA will be restored and abortion by mail will end,” ADF President Kristen Waggoner wrote in a tweet. “The FDA put politics over science when it unlawfully approved dangerous chemical abortion drugs. Girls and women are safer today.”

The case is expected to reach the Supreme Court.

“We are going to continue to fight in the courts, we believe the law is on our side, and we will prevail,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Thursday, according to AP News.

 

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