04.13.23 (PRESS RELEASE) — Last night just before midnight, the Fifth Circuit largely refused to block an order from Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk purporting to revoke the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s approval of mifepristone—one of two drugs used in medication abortion. The Fifth Circuit’s order attempts to reinstate burdensome restrictions from pre-2016, but does not revoke FDA approval of the drug entirely. If the decision stands, it would limit abortion access in every state. The ruling relies on anecdotes from anti-abortion doctors and groups instead of the FDA’s judgment and hundreds of high-quality studies on safety and efficacy.
“This decision is a wolf in sheep’s clothing,” said Nancy Northup, President and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights. “The appellate court order repeats serious errors in Judge Kascmaryk ruling. Again, it is wrong on the facts and the law, resulting in an unprecedented override of the FDA’s scientific judgment. The court rightly found that some claims were filed too late, but that should not distract from the radical assault on the FDA’s decision-making authority and the fact that it will wreak havoc on the provision of medication abortion if it stands.”
Mifepristone was approved by the FDA in 2000 and since that time, medication abortion has been used by nearly 5 million people across the country. Numerous studies have repeatedly shown the safety and efficacy of mifepristone in the two-drug medication abortion regimen. Medication abortion currently accounts for more than half (54%) of all abortions in the U.S., and 98% of medication abortions in 2020 used the two-drug protocol.
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