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U.S. appeals court preserves limited access to abortion pill

Reuters: “The abortion pill mifepristone will remain available in the United States for now but with significant restrictions, including a requirement for in-person doctor visits to obtain the drug, a federal appeals court ruled late on Wednesday. The New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals put on hold part of last Friday’s order by U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk in Amarillo, Texas, that had suspended the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for the drug while he hears a lawsuit by anti-abortion groups seeking to ban it. The Biden administration and the maker of brand-name mifepristone, Danco Laboratories, had quickly asked for an emergency stay of that order. However, the appeals court declined to block portions of Kacsmaryk’s order that effectively reinstate restrictions on the pill’s distribution that had been lifted since 2016. In addition to a requirement of in-person doctor visits to prescribe and dispense the drug, those restrictions include limiting its use to the first seven weeks of pregnancy, down from the current 10. Kacsmaryk’s order is set to take effect on Friday. Wednesday’s ruling came from a panel of three 5th Circuit judges, two appointed by then-President Donald Trump and one by George W. Bush, both Republicans. Judge Catharina Haynes, the Bush appointee, partly dissented, saying she would have temporarily blocked Kacsmaryk’s order entirely. The emergency stay is meant to remain in place until the 5th Circuit can hear the Biden administration’s appeal of Kacsmaryk’s order more fully. That appeal may be heard by a different panel. The administration, the anti-abortion groups or both could also seek to appeal immediately to the U.S. Supreme Court.”

See also Washington Post – Unpacking the flawed science cited in the Texas abortion pill ruling – “A Texas judge’s decision to invalidate federal approval of a key abortion drug cites research based on anonymous blog posts, cherry picks statistics that exaggerate the negative physical and psychological effects of mifepristone, and ignores hundreds of scientific studies attesting to the medication’s safety.”

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