Another day, another decision in the ongoing court battles over the accessibility of mifepristone, used in medication abortion and miscarriage care. We know this is getting confusing, but confusion is the point for the anti-abortion activists, as confusion ultimately means fewer patients access care.
While the landscape continues to shift, National Council of Jewish Women will be here every step of the way to explain the situation and push for expanded access.
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Here is the latest:
Friday, September 8, 2023
The Department of Justice (DOJ) and Danco, a manufacturer of the widely-used abortion drug mifepristone, requested the Supreme Court reverse the Fifth Circuit Court’s ruling issued in mid-August. The Court could decide whether or not to take one or both cases by the end of October and most likely in November. This would mean the Court could take this case this term with a likely decision next year. If the Supreme Court allows the Fifth Circuit’s ruling to go into effect, the access to mifepristone would be restricted.
Wednesday, August 16, 2023
Mifepristone is still available for self-managed abortion and miscarriage care, despite a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upholding aspects of a prior ruling that could restrict access to mifepristone. In particular, the panel agreed with Judge Kascmaryk’s opinion in that it was likely unlawful for the government to make changes to the regulations about mifepristone to make it easier to obtain. Because of the Supreme Court’s April stay, the current availability of mifepristone and the regulations supporting its availability will not be affected. This ruling will likely be appealed to the Supreme Court, and the current availability of mifepristone will not be affected if and until the Court decides to hear the case and issue a ruling.
Wednesday, May 17, 2023
A three judge panel of the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit heard oral arguments in the mifepristone case in which laywers for the Department of Justice and Danco Laboratories, a manufacturer of mifepristone, defended the drug’s approval and efficacy. The Fifth Circuit is reviewing an April ruling from US District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk restricting access to mifepristone, which has been put on hold by the Supreme Court. Regardless of when the appeals court hands down its final ruling, the case will need to go back to the Supreme Court first before that ruling goes into effect. The emergency order from the justices pausing Judge Kacsmaryk’s ruling said the current regulatory regime would remain until the case is appealed to the Supreme Court and at least until the justices decide whether they’ll take the case.
Friday, April 21, 2023
Mifepristone is available and there will be no change in the availability of the medication anytime soon. This is the result of the Supreme Court issuing a new stay order on Judge Kacsmyrak’s decision, pending full appeal. While the first step of the appeals process is scheduled in May, each of the current cases will have to make their way through the courts, which will take some time.
Wednesday, April 19, 2023
The Supreme Court just extended access to mifepristone, used in medication abortion and miscarriage care, through Friday, April 21 at 11:59pm. Originally, they intended to issue a decision by 11:59pm today, April 19, but have extended their own timeline for issuing a decision in the cases out of the Northern District of Texas and the Fifth Circuit Court.
Friday, April 14, 2023 | 4:30pm
The Supreme Court has stayed the order of Judge Kacsmyrak until 11:59 pm, Wednesday night. This means there is temporarily extended access to mifepristone, giving the Court more time to consider the case.
Friday, April 14, 2023 | 1:25pm
Danco, the manufacturer of Mifeprex (brand name mifepristone), has appealed the Fifth Circuit’s decision.
And just now, the Department of Justice filed its case with the US Supreme Court, asking it to overturn the original Texas decision on the fate of mifepristone.
Friday, April 14, 2023 |11:00am
Last night, Judge Thomas Rice of the US District Court for the Eastern District of Washington (Washington state) issued yet another decision, distinct from the first decision he issued last Friday, April 7, which blocks the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from making any changes to its provision of mifepristone in 17 states and the District of Columbia.
Last night’s decision requires continued availability of mifepristone — without the obstacles required by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals decision — in 17 states (Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington) and the District of Columbia. As a reminder, the restrictions of the Fifth Circuit include: the prevention of mailing the pill, requiring at least three in-person provider visits for patients to obtain the drug, and shortening the window of availability from ten weeks of pregnancy to seven weeks. (See more in our email from yesterday below this one.) All of these restrictions make it more challenging for pregnant people to obtain the reproductive health care they need.
Here is what we know:
- Mifepristone is still available for now, but with limited access in the states that are not involved in the Washington state case.
- The Washington state decision is a direct challenge to the Fifth Circuit Court’s decision and sets up more legal challenges in the courts.
- Today, the Department of Justice is expected to ask the US Supreme Court to overturn Judge Kacsmaryk’s decision.
- The fight for access to medication abortion is not over.
We will continue to keep you updated as these and other related mifepristone cases make their way through the courts. Follow us on our social media (Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram) and post on your own platforms using our social media guide as your Shabbat observance allows. And, be sure to add your voice to our Jewish communal pledge for medication abortion access, and share it with your family, friends, and colleagues. Additionally, there are a number of in-person events across the country this weekend, which can be found here and here.
As we prepared for the last Shabbat, we shared a new blessing for reproductive freedom with our Rabbis for Repro, in the hope that support for medication abortion would be spoken from bimas across the country during this critical time. We offer it to you, as well, for another opportunity to raise our communal voices for a world where everyone can make their own decisions about their bodies and their futures.
Thursday, April 13
Last night, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals temporarily blocked Judge Kacsmaryk’s decision to reverse the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval of mifepristone, set to take effect tomorrow, April 14. This means that while mifepristone is still available for now, this ruling continues to significantly limit access, including:
- Preventing mailing the pill.
- Requiring at least three in-person provider visits.
- Shortening the window of obtaining the pill from 10 weeks of pregnancy to seven weeks.
We are still determining what the decision means for miscarriage care, but what we do know is that this decision does not go far enough to protect access to safe and effective medication abortion. It is not lost on us that these court decisions are being released during Passover, a time when we tell the story of our freedom while simultaneously our rights continue to be curtailed.
The fight for access to medication abortion is not over. The Washington state decision blocking the FDA from making any changes to its provision of mifepristone is still in effect and may contradict this new decision out of the Fifth Circuit. There are also two other cases in which courts are being asked to expand access to medication abortion. We expect the US Supreme Court to intervene, too.
Follow us on our social media (Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram) and post on your own platforms using our social media guide as your holiday and Shabbat observance allow. And, be sure to add your voice to our Jewish communal pledge for medication abortion access, and share it with your family, friends, and colleagues.
The Exodus from Egypt was a long march towards liberation. Together with all of you, we will not stop working for a world where every person is able to access comprehensive, affordable, compassionate, and equitable abortion care.