Court Intervenes to Preserve Access to Abortion Pill


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The  U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans on Wednesday denied a request to suspend the authorisation of the abortion pill, mifepristone, as it kept in place the limitations that forbid it from being posted to patients.

The decision by the court  partially blocked a Trump-appointed judge's rule created significant uncertainty about medicine availability. The case is expected to be heard by the Supreme Court soon.

The court allowed the Justice Department's urgent plea to temporarily suspend a portion of the ruling given last week by U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk.

The ruling of the court puts the wide access to the medication on restriction as it mandated people needing it to go to doctor's office in person.

In 2016, the regulations were altered, resulting in the need for patients to visit doctors in person only once and giving women the ability to get prescribed medication up to 10 weeks into their pregnancy instead of only up to 7 weeks.

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The appeals court announced that it would quickly review the case in its entirety.

The Justice Department has the option to go to the Supreme Court in order to overturn Kacsmaryk's ruling. To be successful, they would require the backing of five out of the nine justices, as the court currently has a 6-3 conservative majority.

The appeals court panel was split 2-1, with Judges Kurt Engelhardt and Andrew Oldham, both appointed by President Donald Trump, making up the majority. Judge Catharina Haynes, an appointee of President George W. Bush, indicated that she would have temporarily prevented the ruling from taking effect.

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The appeals court concluded that the challengers had waited too long to challenge the 2000 approval in court. But, the court found, the claims against the 2016 revisions and later decisions could be pursued because the government and drug maker Danco Laboratories “have not shown that plaintiffs are unlikely to succeed on the merits of their timely challenges.”

The court also found that a hitherto obscure 19th century law called the Comstock Act, which prohibits the mailing of any drug or medicine that can be used for abortion, factors into its analysis of the 2021 decision to allow mifepristone to be distributed by mail.

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“To the extent the Comstock Act introduces uncertainty into the ultimate merits of the case, that uncertainty favours the plaintiffs,” the court said.

The Biden administration and the manufacturer of Mifeprex (a branded version of mifepristone) have both asked to suspend the decision of Kacsmaryk.

Kacsmaryk's ruling totally changed the situation that had been in place for a long time, stopping the FDA from giving their approval to mifepristone and denying individuals the chance to use this secure and effective treatment, which was based on the court's own incorrect evaluation of the drug's safety, the lawyers from the Justice Department noted in their legal documents.





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