NEW ORLEANS — A federal appeals court ruled against Obama and Biden administration policies on Wednesday that allowed abortion pills to be used later in pregnancy and to be mailed without an in-person visit.
The decision from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals is the latest step in a high-profile lawsuit against the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) over the abortion drug mifepristone. A group of medical associations, doctors, and the Alliance Defending Freedom sued the FDA for circumventing the usual approval process and waiving safety guidelines and protective measures in order to push more abortions within the last 20 years. In April, the case made it all the way to the Supreme Court, which ruled that the abortion drug can temporarily stay on the market in states without strong Pro-Life laws. The high court has not yet considered the merits of the lawsuit.
The Fifth Circuit partially upheld and partially denied the Pro-Life group’s case. Judges ruled that the Pro-Life plaintiffs could not challenge the FDA’s initial approval of mifepristone because they believed the statute of limitations expired. At the same time, the court agreed that the FDA improperly loosened regulations for the drug in 2016 and 2021 by allowing mifepristone to be used later in pregnancy and without an in-person visit to a physician. If the Supreme Court does not intervene in the case, this ruling would bring the approved window for mifepristone down from 10 weeks to seven weeks and would require pregnant women to visit their doctors in person, receive a prescription, and require physicians to report all adverse events related to the use of the drug. Anti-Life groups in the United States could no longer legally mail abortion pills to pregnant women’s homes or dorm rooms, including in pro-abortion states. However, regardless of what happens in this case, international groups continue to illegally sell abortion pills online from pharmacies overseas.
Wednesday’s order does not change the status quo in Pro-Life states like Texas where the Right to Life of all preborn children is legally recognized, but in several other states without strong prohibitions on abortion, this order would restore multiple safety guidelines on the use of mifepristone, safeguards that had been waived by pro-abortion presidential administrations.
In the dissenting opinion, Judge James Ho argued that the appeals court should have also pulled the abortion drug off the market.
Texas Right to Life President Dr. John Seago responded:
“The FDA exists to protect Americans from dangerous drugs, yet numerous pro-abortion presidents used the agency as a political tool to promote elective abortion at the expense of pregnant women and their preborn children. In the next step, we hope the court will take accusations against the FDA seriously and will fairly examine the agency’s negligent and politically-motivated approval of this deadly abortion drug over the last 23 years.”
The case will likely be taken up by the Supreme Court but the timing is unknown.
Chemical abortions have become the primary procedure for abortion nationally.
Every abortion ends the life of an innocent preborn child, and chemical abortion is additionally dangerous for the pregnant mother. Studies show that 1 in 5 women experience an adverse event following a chemical abortion, the rate of complications for chemical abortions is four times higher than surgical abortions, and they require follow-up surgical abortion in 3-8% of cases. This type of abortion takes much longer and involves more bleeding and pain, and complications increase exponentially with the baby’s increasing gestational age.
By 10 weeks in pregnancy, the preborn baby has her own unique DNA; her heart starts beating; her eyes, legs, and hands begin to develop; she has detectable brain waves; and every major organ system is in place.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of two drugs in 2000 to cause chemical abortions. The first drug, mifepristone, kills the preborn child by starving him or her to death, while the second, misoprostol, causes the woman to deliver the deceased baby. Under President Obama in 2016, the FDA approved the abortion pills for use later in pregnancy, from seven weeks to 10 weeks, despite the increased risk of complications. In 2021, the Biden-led FDA removed the requirement for pregnant women to visit a doctor in person, a step that is necessary to determine the age of the preborn child and examine the mother for ectopic pregnancy, Rh incompatibility, or other conditions that contraindicate the abortion pill regimen.
Mail-order abortions essentially turn every cell phone into an abortion clinic. Texas Right to Life continues to call on Governor Abbott to include in a special session policies that would stop dangerous new trends like anti-Life groups sending abortion drugs illegally through the mail or trafficking them over our southern border. Women in unexpected pregnancies can find free help in their communities at TexasPregnancy.org.