Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine v. FDA shakes abortion pill access

The case is "Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine v. FDA." It's being adjudicated by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, who decided Wednesday to restrict the abortion pill mifepristone, which has been legal for more than 20 years.  

"They want to see abortion banned everywhere, in every state, for everybody, for any reason," said Kelly Baden, Vice President for Public Policy at the Guttmacher Institute. 

The case started when anti-abortion groups and doctors sued the FDA, claiming the process it used to approve the abortion pill was improper and may not be safe without a doctor's oversight.  

"When abortion advocates talk about how safe the pill is," said Carol Tobias, the National Right to Life Committee President, "they are not giving everybody the full information. There’s a study in Canada showing more than 10 percent of the women needing follow-up care at an emergency room with a doctor." 


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So, the Appeals Court wants to stop the drug from being prescribed over the phone and sent through the mail. It must be prescribed in-person. It also wants to roll back its use from 10-weeks of pregnancy to seven.  

"It presents an additional layer of burden on pregnant people to travel to doctors’ offices or clinical facilities to access care that can be very safely provided over telehealth," said Wendy Stark, CEO President Planned Parenthood of Greater New York.  

This decision has no immediate effect. Mifepristone remains legal. The Appeals Court ruling will go up to the Supreme Court. If they sign off on it, the abortion pill will be restricted in this country.  

"This is a case that extends well beyond abortion rights specifically," Baden said, "and really gets into the autonomy of the FDA itself, which really affects a variety of health care issues and a variety of medications on the market." 

Experts say the ruling will most likely be brought up in the Supreme Court’s next session, starting in October and may take as long as a year to officially be decided on.