BREAKING: Biden administration to appeal to Supreme Court over ruling restricting access to abortion pills
Washington D.C., Apr 13, 2023 / 11:20 am
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 appeals court Wednesday night temporarily suspended the judge’s ruling to invalidate the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the abortion pill mifepristone. The decision will, however, leave in place restrictions that will severely limit the abortion drug’s distribution.
The three-judge panel from the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in Louisiana granted a partial stay of Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk’s Friday ruling. It also reinstated mifepristone restrictions lifted by the FDA after 2016.
This means that the abortion pill mifepristone remains legal for the time being, and pharmacies such as CVS and Walgreens can continue to dispense prescriptions.
The drug will no longer be permitted to be distributed via mail, however. Instead, an in-person doctor visit to prescribe and dispense the drug is required.
Additionally, mifepristone’s use will be limited to the first seven weeks of pregnancy, instead of 10, and a follow-up doctor’s visit to check for complications is required after a chemical abortion.
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.
Mifepristone is the first drug used in what is commonly a two-step regimen for a chemical abortion. The pill works to kill an unborn baby by cutting off the nutrients necessary for it to continue developing.
Given that chemical abortions now account for over half of all U.S. abortions, this ruling carries significant implications for the entire country, including states where abortion remains legally protected.
Erin Hawley, senior counsel at Alliance Defending Freedom, the firm representing the pro-life groups in this case, responded to the 5th Circuit’s ruling, saying: “The 5th Circuit’s decision is a significant victory for the doctors we represent, women’s health, and every American who deserves an accountable federal government acting within the bounds of the law.”
“The FDA put politics ahead of the health of women and girls when it impermissibly failed to study how dangerous the chemical abortion drug regimen is and when it unlawfully removed every meaningful safeguard that it previously implemented,” Hawley said. “The FDA should have to answer for the damage it has done to the rule of law and the harm it has caused to countless women and girls.”
Speaking to reporters from Dublin while on a presidential visit to Ireland, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre responded: “We are going to continue to fight in the courts, we believe the law is on our side, and we will prevail.”
The full 5th Circuit will continue to review the case and will issue a final ruling unless one of the groups involved appeals directly to the Supreme Court.
This is a developing story.