Overnight, a panel of judges on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals partially blocked enforcement of a widely-criticized ruling last week by a Texas judge that would have forced the Federal Drug Administration to suspend its more than two decades old approval of mifepristone. The medication is widely used to terminate early pregnancies and manage miscarriage. The court temporarily blocked enforcement of the district court ruling that suspended FDA approval of mifepristone.  However, the Fifth Circuit declined to stay that part of the district court ruling that said the FDA wrongly expanded access to mifepristone – allowing it to be used up to 10 weeks and to be available through retail pharmacies – after the medication was approved. The ruling overnight does not impact a separate federal court ruling from Washington State ordering the FDA to leave access to mifepristone in place. The following can be attributed to Ameri Klafeta, Director of the Women’s and Reproductive Rights Project at the ACLU of Illinois:

The Court’s action today allows some clarity regarding the Texas court decision last week. Mifepristone will continue to be available for abortion and miscarriage care. 

The action was necessitated by last week’s legally unprecedented decision based largely on ideology, not evidence-based medicine and health care. Mifepristone is safe.  There is no evidence that mifepristone needs further safety reviews. It has been in widespread use for more than two decades, with a safety record that exceeds common over-the-counter medications like Tylenol. We expect that further court review of the facts presented in the matter will reverse entirely the lower court’s ideologically-based decision.

One thing is clear – abortion remains legal and available in Illinois, including for those using mifepristone. If someone has an appointment scheduled, they should keep that appointment.