A federal appeals court ruled that the abortion pill mifepristone can still be used for now, partially overruling a lower court’s decision according to the New York Times.
Despite preserving access to the pill, the appeals court restored earlier restrictions on its usage. It is no longer possible to send mifepristone via mail, and it is only available for pregnant women up to seven weeks instead of ten.
Following the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade last year, last Friday a federal judge in Texas dealt a major blow to abortion rights by blocking the Food and Drug Administration’s licensing of the abortion drug mifepristone.
The FDA had approved mifepristone as safe and effective, but U.S. District Judge Matthew J. Kacsmaryk sided with conservative organizations pushing to reverse that approval. States with current protections for abortion rights would be included in the proposed reversal.
“[The] FDA acquiesced on its legitimate safety concerns — in violation of its statutory duty — based on plainly unsound reasoning and studies that did not support its conclusions,” Kacsmaryk wrote in his 67-page opinion, per the Washington Post.
The three-judge appeals court panel disagreed with Kacsmaryk and reinstated access with tighter restrictions. According to The New York Times, the court’s decision will stand until the complete case is decided “on its merits.”
Mifepristone was approved by the FDA in 2000, and beginning in 2016, the agency began to eliminate some of the restrictions to make the medication more readily available.
According to The Times, the appeals court ruled that too much time had passed since the drug’s first FDA clearance for it to be challenged. They also stated in the decision that the government and drug manufacturers agree that taking a medicine off the market that has been available for decades could have “significant public consequences.”
Moreover, the panel noted that although it’s too late to challenge the drug’s original approval in 2000, it can still appeal the FDA’s changes since 2016.
The Washington Post reports that Kacsmaryk’s decision is the first time a court has mandated that the FDA take a drug off the market despite opposition from both the agency and the manufacturer.
“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 while addressing reporters on Thursday, reports the Associated Press.