A federal appellate court, according to CBS News, has issued its ruling in the abortion pill case, and, surprisingly, the court did not give the administration of President Joe Biden the ruling that it wanted.
This week, the case was appealed to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans following the preliminary ruling of U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk of the U.S. District Court for Northern Texas.
The lawsuit has been brought by anti-abortion doctors and groups, who are challenging the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval, in 2000, of the abortion drug mifepristone.
The argument is that the approval process was seriously flawed, that it failed to take into consideration various safety aspects of the drug. Accordingly, the anti-abortion advocates are looking to get that approval overturned.
In the meantime, while the case is being litigated, the anti-abortion advocates asked Kacsmaryk to grant them a preliminary injunction stopping the sale of mifepristone until a final decision on the merits is reached. Kacsmaryk has granted this preliminary relief.
The Biden administration, in response, indicated that it would be appealing this decision. It did so, and, the case reached the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on this week.
The 5th Circuit did rule in Biden's favor, but only partially.
The court has decided to allow the FDA's approval of mifepristone to remain in effect, which would seem to suggest that the court is going to allow the drug to continue to be sold while the matter is litigated in the courts.
There is another aspect, however, to the court's ruling.
CBS News reports:
But changes made by the FDA since 2016 relaxing the rules for prescribing and dispensing mifepristone would be placed on hold. Those include extending the period of pregnancy when the drug can be used and also allowing it to be dispensed by mail, without any need to visit a doctor's office.
It now appears that Biden's U.S. Department of Justice will pursue a final appeal at the U.S. Supreme Court.
"The Justice Department strongly disagrees with the Fifth Circuit's decision in Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine v. FDA to deny in part our request for a stay pending appeal," Attorney General Merrick Garland said.
He added, "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."
It remains to be seen how the justices will handle the matter.