Appeals court preserves FDA approval of abortion drug, but subject to restrictions; sets up Supreme Court review

August 22, 2023
Area(s) of Interest: Reproductive Freedom 

In the latest ruling in an ongoing legal battle on the future of abortion medications, a panel of the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans recently upheld parts of a Texas District Court ruling that would restrict the use of mifepristone, while still allowing the drug to remain on the market.

In this case, Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine et al v. U.S. Food and Drug Administration et al., a group in Texas sued the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) over its approval of mifepristone, arguing that the agency didn't take safety concerns into account when making the pill more accessible.

The panel ruled 2-1 that Mifepristone should not be prescribed pursuant to an in-person or telemedicine encounter with an authorized health care practitioner past seven weeks of pregnancy. The court also ruled that Mifepristone should not be available by mail.

A previous stay by the United States Supreme Court in April, however, means that there is no change in access or availability of the medication for now. Any restrictions would not take effect until the Supreme Court decides whether it will hear the case.  

“As physicians, we at the California Medical Association believe it is critical that patients have access to vital, often life-saving reproductive health services,” said CMA President Donaldo Hernandez, M.D. “We stand committed to doing all we can to protect the fundamental human right to access reproductive health services, and we will work to safeguard personal medical decisions that should be made by patients in consultation with their health care providers, not ideologically driven lawmakers or judges without medical or scientific training.



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