Monday, 20 May, 2024
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US court upholds abortion pill access restrictions

In America’s ongoing saga of the abortion pill mifepristone, an appeals court last week ruled to limit access to the drug, returning to regulations from several years ago – but said it would not be taking the medication off the market.

The court decided that the US Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) previous regulations for mifepristone were unlawful, Reuters reported.

The FDA had ruled that the abortion pill could be taken at a later stage in pregnancy (70 days into pregnancy versus 49 days), shipped via mail, and could be prescribed from medical professionals who are not doctors.

This latest ruling does not order the pill to be taken off the market, compared with a preliminary ruling that suspended the drug’s FDA approval, reports The Guardian.

But the decision does eliminate the ability to obtain the abortion pill online or through other methods of sale that were approved post 2016.

“This means that, until final judgment, Mifeprex will remain available to the public under the conditions for use that existed in 2016,” the court said, referring to the abortion medication’s brand name.

Mifepristone, along with the pill misoprostol, is used in more than half of all US abortions and is approved for use in the first 10 weeks of pregnancy.

The ruling will not have an immediate impact on mifepristone, with the medication remaining available under current regulations.

The challenge against the abortion pill began in November when a case was brought against the FDA by the Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine, a group of anti-abortion medical practitioners.

In a lawsuit filed in Texas, the Catholic faith organisation argued that the FDA had ignored safety concerns regarding minors when it approved mifepristone, and overstepped its regulatory authority. The FDA however, defended its approval of the medication, noting rigorous safety reviews of the pill.

In April, a Texas federal judge ruled with the Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine and issued an injunction for the abortion medication, revoking decades-old FDA approval of mifepristone.

The availability of mifepristone was protected via an emergency order from the supreme court in April that maintains the pill’s availability during the appeals process.

The most recent decision is likely to be appealed to the supreme court for review. The continued legal battle over mifepristone is one of the most significant abortion rights cases since the overturn of Roe v Wade last June.

Since then, an increasing number of states have attempted to restrict access to mifepristone, while at least 20 states have also issued total or near-total bans on abortions.


The Guardian article – US appeals court upholds restrictions on abortion pill access (Open access)


US appeals court backs abortion pill restrictions; Supreme Court appeal planned (Open access)


See more from MedicalBrief archives:


Abortion pill access upheld by US Supreme Court


US abortion pill duel intensifies


US AGs weigh in on court battle over access to abortion medicines


Roe vs Wade: US abortion rights’ ruling could hurt women worldwide


Biden pleads to Congress to pass law protecting abortion rights

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