Apr 13, 2023 - Health

DOJ to appeal abortion pill decision to Supreme Court

Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

The Justice Department said Thursday that it will appeal to the Supreme Court a lower court decision that let the FDA's approval of the abortion pill mifepristone remain in effect but imposed strict restrictions on the drug's use.

Why it matters: Less than a year after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the justices have yet another major abortion case at their doorstep.

The big picture: The New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday night issued a decision partly blocking the Texas judge's federal ruling that had temporarily blocked the FDA's approval of mifepristone.

  • The appellate judges allowed the FDA's authorization to remain in place, meaning mifepristone is still available in the U.S. However, it imposed strict restrictions.
  • Only qualified physicians can dispense the pill and patients have to access it in person, not by mail.
  • Additionally, the generic version of mifepristone's approval is suspended and the drug can only be taken within the first seven weeks of pregnancy, instead of the previous 10 weeks that the FDA originally approved.

What they're saying "The Justice Department strongly disagrees with the Fifth Circuit's decision," said Attorney General Merrick Garland.

  • "We will be seeking emergency relief from the Supreme Court to defend the FDA's scientific judgment and protect Americans' access to safe and effective reproductive care."

What we're watching: Legal experts say that once the DOJ's appeal is filed, the Supreme Court could act quickly on the appellate court's decision because it's set to take effect on Saturday.

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