The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) must restore critical safeguards for chemical abortion drugs and prohibit mail-order abortions in 96-page opinion issued August 16, 2023.

The appeals court made the two important determinations.

First, the court ruled the FDA must prohibit abortion providers from sending abortion pills to women through the mail. The FDA had previously announced – in violation of federal law – that it would permit women to obtain the abortion pill via the mail in 2021.

Second, the Fifth Circuit ruled the FDA’s 2016 changes to its previously imposed safeguards for women – “extend[ing] the permissible gestational age of the baby for which a girl or woman may take chemical abortion drugs – from seven to 10 weeks’ gestation – remov[ing] two of three required office visits, allow[ing] non-doctors to prescribe the drug regimen, and eliminat[ing] the requirement that providers report non-fatal adverse events to the FDA Adverse Event Reporting System” – violated federal law. The court reinstated the FDA’s original guidelines from 2000.

“The Fifth Circuit rightly required the FDA to do its job and restore crucial safeguards for women and girls, including ending illegal mail-order abortions,” said vice president of the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) Center for Life and Regulatory Practice and Senior Counsel Erin Hawley, adding:

The FDA will finally be made to account for the damage it has caused to the health of countless women and girls and the rule of law by unlawfully removing every meaningful safeguard from the chemical abortion drug regimen.

The FDA’s unprecedented and unlawful actions did not reflect scientific judgment but rather revealed politically driven decisions to push a dangerous drug regimen without regard to women’s health or the rule of law.

ADF filed the lawsuit against the FDA on behalf of the Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine, three additional medical organizations and four doctors.

The unanimous opinion was written by Judge Jennifer Elrod, an appointee of former President George W. Bush, and joined by Judges Ho and Wilson, both appointees of former President Donald Trump.

Kirsten Waggoner, CEO and President of Alliance Defending Freedom, tweeted the following after the ruling:

Numerous pro-life organizations, including Focus on the Family, 40 Day for Life, My Faith Votes and Young America’s Foundation, among others, had urged the Fifth Circuit to uphold a district court ruling that rescinded the FDA’s approval of mifepristone entirely.

Unfortunately, the Fifth Circuit’s ruling did not go that far.

Nevertheless, the appeals court’s ruling is a substantial victory for pro-life supporters pushing back against the activist FDA’s dangerous and illegal pro-abortion regulations. Alliance Defending Freedom deserves great credit for objecting to the FDA’s unlawful pro-abortion regime.

The Fifth Circuit’s ruling will not go into effect immediately, as the court permitted the FDA time to seek an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The case is Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine v. U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

If you are experiencing an unexpected pregnancy and want to learn more about your options, visit My Choice Network.

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