August 17, 2023

U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals rules to return mifepristone to earlier regulations

Joe Gratz


The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Wednesday in a split decision in favor of returning the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the abortion medication mifepristone to its 2016 regulations.

The decision agrees with U.S. District Court Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk’s decision in part and disagrees with it in part. But, the Fifth Circuit’s decision would keep the FDA’s original approval of the drug, made in 2000, in place. It would also keep the generic version of mifepristone on the market.

But, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision agreed with Kacsmaryk’s earlier decision in part, which, if allowed to stand, would require the FDA to return to its 2016 regulations around the drug. That would mean that an abortion patient would have to make three visits to an abortion clinic to take the first of the two-pill regime.

That increases barriers for people of color and individuals who live in rural communities because the vast majority of abortion clinics are located in urban areas. 

But, the U.S. Supreme Court placed a stay on all decisions last spring until it can consider the issue in the upcoming 2023-2024 court session.