Conservative Appeals Court Ruling Could Limit Mifepristone Access

The ruling will not take effect until the Supreme Court weighs in during the next term.

An abortion rights protest, with a person holding a blue sign that says
Access to mifepristone, one of two pills used in medication abortion, could be heavily curbed if the Supreme Court upholds the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals' ruling. Austen Risolvato/Rewire News Group

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling Wednesday that would significantly limit nationwide access to mifepristone. However, the status quo remains in place until the Supreme Court weighs in.

For now, mifepristone, one of two drugs used in medication abortions, remains legally accessible in states that have not banned abortion. The Fifth Circuit’s conservative three-judge panel heard oral arguments in April.

The court’s ruling would restore outdated restrictions on mifepristone, but would not reverse Food and Drug Administration approval of the drug. However, these changes are barred from going into effect until after the case makes its way back to the Supreme Court thanks to an earlier ruling.

On Wednesday, advocates condemned the decision.

“Today’s decision by the Fifth Circuit to partially reaffirm Judge Kacsmaryk’s ruling attempting to yank mifepristone off the shelves is an outrageous attack on the reproductive freedom and bodily autonomy of women and pregnant people in the United States,”Catholics for Choice President Jamie Manson said in a statement.

“As Catholics, we are dismayed, disheartened, and disgusted to see this betrayal of our fundamental values, particularly respect for human dignity and affirmation that health care is a human right,” Manson continued.

One way or another, this case will make its way back to the Supreme Court—possibly as soon as the next term, which begins in October and typically concludes by the end of June. States may continue to ban abortion, but FDA regulations around mifepristone will not change before then.

This post was adapted from a Twitter thread.