Fifth Circuit Judges Hear Arguments in Abortion Pill Case

A federal appeals court is hearing arguments on Wednesday in a case that could determine the availability of a medication used in a majority of abortions in the country.

A three-judge panel from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit is considering whether to uphold a preliminary ruling from a federal judge in Texas, who in April declared invalid the Food and Drug Administration’s 23-year-old approval of the pill, mifepristone.

Although the case is still in its early stages and any decision is likely to be appealed, it could ultimately have profound implications.

If the initial judge’s ruling is upheld, access to medication abortion would be upended in states where abortion is legal, not just in states where bans and restrictions are in force. The F.D.A.’s regulatory authority over other drugs could be challenged with other lawsuits, and pharmaceutical companies say that uncertainty about the F.D.A.’s role could chill drug development in the United States.


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This article was written by Abbie VanSickle and Pam Belluck and originally published on