Federal Appeals Court Makes Decision On The Mailing Of Abortion Pills
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 28: An anti-abortion activist holds a sign as she participates in a "#BanChemicalAbortions" protest outside of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) June 28, 2022 in Washington, DC. The Stanton Public Policy Center, Purple Sash Revolution and Created Equal held a protest "calling for a ban on chemical abortions."
Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images.

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Wednesday that chemical abortion drug mifepristone should not be distributed through the mail or prescribed via telemedicine in a ruling that cannot take effect until the Supreme Court issues a ruling on the decision. 

The appeals court did not go as far as U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk who moved to suspend the FDA’s approval of mifepristone earlier this year, but it did reinstate regulations on mailing and prescribing the pill. Mifepristone is used in up to half of all abortions. 

“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 Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Erin Hawley, who helped represent those who sued FDA officials to stop the distribution of the drug  “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.”

“The FDA’s unprecedented and unlawful actions did not reflect scientific judgment but rather revealed politically driven decisions to push a dangerous drug regimen without regard to women’s health or the rule of law. This is a significant victory for the doctors and medical associations we represent and, more importantly, the health and safety of women,” Hawley added. 

The decision was made by three judges, two of whom were appointed by former President Donald Trump and one by former President George Bush. The Supreme Court is expected to rule on the case in its coming fall session after previously putting a stay on Kacsmaryk’s decision to suspend approval for the pill. 

The decision was widely celebrated by pro-life organizations and decried by pro-abortion groups.

“Today’s ruling by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals reinstating these basic safeguards and stopping the dangerous practice of mail-order abortions is a first step towards reprioritizing women’s health over the interests of the abortion industry and its allies within our profession. As physicians, we will continue to fight for all our patients to be able to receive the best fully informed and evidence-based healthcare possible,” said a statement from the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, a plaintiff in the case. 

Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Alexis McGill Johnson, claimed that the ruling “makes it clear that mifepristone’s approval is very much still at risk, as is the FDA’s independence.”

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