A federal appeals court ruled against the distribution of the abortion pill through mail, causing a significant setback for the Biden administration. This unanimous decision has been hailed by pro-life advocates, who suggest that it might save tens of thousands of lives. The outcome sets the stage for a potential Supreme Court showdown between the pro-life movement and the abortion lobby.
A three-judge panel from the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals concluded that the Obama and Biden administrations’ relaxed safety standards on the abortion pill were in error. The case, Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine v. U.S. Food and Drug Administration, centered on the argument that the FDA hastily approved the chemical abortion drug mifepristone in 2000 due to political reasons.
The ruling brought several changes:
- It limited the time frame for dispensing mifepristone from 10 to seven weeks.
- Only physicians are now allowed to prescribe the pill.
- Women are required to make three in-person doctor visits for the abortion process.
- Mailing abortion pills has been prohibited.
- Abortion providers must report all side effects caused by mifepristone.
Previously, both Barack Obama and Joe Biden aimed to modify the rules around mifepristone distribution. However, Judge Jennifer Elrod criticized the FDA for overlooking safety restrictions, suggesting a lack of consideration for the drug’s safety.
Advocates for the pro-life position praised the ruling. They believe giving abortion pills directly ensures no third party can exploit women. However, some continue to voice concerns, stating the abortion industry still illegally ships the drug, violating the Comstock Act.
Mifepristone’s popularity in the U.S. has grown, with it accounting for 54 percent of all abortions. Katie Daniel, from Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, highlighted the risks of unsupervised mail-order abortion pills, as studies indicate they cause more harmful side effects than surgical abortions. Between 2000 and 2021, the FDA documented over 4,000 adverse events, including 26 deaths, from mifepristone use.
Dr. Ingrid Skop emphasized the risks associated with mifepristone, pointing to her personal experiences treating complications. A survey from Support After Abortion revealed that 55 percent of “pro-choice” women regretted taking mifepristone.
The Biden administration expressed disappointment with the ruling. Vice President Kamala Harris labeled the decision as threatening to women’s freedom. Meanwhile, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra warned about the health impacts of banning the pill.
Several states have taken measures in response to the ruling. Some “abortion sanctuary” states are accumulating stockpiles of mifepristone and promise not to prosecute those mailing the pill, even if it breaks the law.