April 17, 2023: On Friday, the Biden administration and the abortion pill distributor Danco Laboratories asked the Supreme Court to block an order threatening access to mifepristone medication to escalate a legal fight that could make it difficult to undergo the procedure nationwide.
On Wednesday, the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals stopped U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk’s order cancelling the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of mifepristone.
But the appeals court voted 2-1 temporarily reimpose restrictions on mifepristone, which will hugely limit access to the drug even where abortion is legal.
“If permitted to take effect, the lower court’s orders would upend the regulatory rules for mifepristone, swept consequences for the pharmaceutical industry, women access to the drug, and FDA’s ability to put its statutory power,” U.S. Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar stated.
The solicitor general stated that this is the first time any court has repealed FDA drug approval conditions based on a disagreement over the agency’s judgement about safety. She stressed that mifepristone has been on the market for over 20 years.
Mifepristone, combined with misoprostol, is the most common method to terminating a pregnancy in the U.S., accounting for regarding half of all abortions. Misoprostol, a stand-alone abortion drug in other parts of the world, is not affected by the lower court rulings.
The Justice Department has said in its last filings that the ruling on strict mifepristone access is set to take effect at midnight CT on Saturday.