Apr 13, 2023

6 questions about mifepristone and abortion access, answered

It’s been a confusing, consequential few days for the future of abortion access in America.

On April 7, Matthew Kacsmaryk, a federal judge in Texas, issued a decision suspending the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of mifepristone, one of two drugs used to administer medication abortion, a procedure that makes up the majority of abortions in the US. The same day, a federal judge in Washington state issued a conflicting opinion, barring the FDA from putting more restrictions on mifepristone.

The Biden administration challenged the Texas decision in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, and on April 12, that court issued its own decision. In a temporary ruling that could potentially be displaced by the Supreme Court, the Fifth Circuit rejected parts of Kacsmaryk’s ruling — namely the part about suspending mifepristone entirely from the market — but upheld other restrictions, which could severely restrict access to the medication.

The case in the appellate court is not over, and will continue to be litigated, eventually before a different Fifth Circuit panel and then potentially before the Supreme Court.