A three judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling Wednesday just before midnight in New Orleans that has preserved access to the abortion drug mifepristone.
In a 2-1 vote the panel blocked the lower court ruling by Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas for now, but set tighter rules that would allow the drug only to be dispensed up to seven weeks into pregnancy, not 10, and not by mail.
In his ruling in Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine v. FDA, Kacsmaryk had issued a stay on the Food and Drug Administration’s conclusion that mifepristone, which is used in combination with a second drug, misoprostol, is safe and effective, a finding the agency reached in 2000 that has since been buttressed by more than two decades of clinical evidence.
Kacsmaryk’s ruling had been on pause for a week to allow the U.S. Justice Department to file the appeal with the 5th Circuit Court.