5th Circuit Court Delivers Mixed Ruling on Abortion Pill Access

As the United States remained engulfed in significant cultural, fiscal, and judicial political debates which range widely in their levels of controversy, one social issue continues to remain at the forefront of the political discussion even after decades of discussion. The topic of abortion remains at the center of American politics. In 2022, Roe vs. Wade was overturned after decades of enforcement, restoring the 10th amendment and giving state governments across the nation the ability to theoretically outlaw abortion in its entirety. This is not likely to change following a Fifth Circuit court judge’s decision to uphold restrictions on access to a controversial pill that induces abortion.

On August 16th, a federal appeals court reversed a lower court’s decision to ban the sale of mifepristone, a pill that essentially causes an abortion. Despite this, the three-judge panel upheld aspects of the ruling that limited methods of selling or distributing the drug. While this decision has no immediate practical impact on abortion access, the federal Justice department has already stated that the Supreme Court will be asked to weigh in on the ruling, once again placing the issue of abortion at center stage in the national political arena.

Last Summer in 2022, Roe v. Wade was overturned by the supreme court 49 years after the landmark case was heard. Since the ruling, abortion clinics around the country have relied heavily on the widespread availability of medicated abortion drugs as many states have placed significant restrictions on abortion and in some extreme cases practically outlawed it entirely. Since 2016, the federal government has enacted measures to make pills like mifepristone more accessible to the general public, allowing for online ordering, delivery by mail, and pharmaceutical dispensing of similar drugs.

The ruling restricted purchasing methods, prohibiting many current methods of distribution. Additionally, it limits access to the drugs to women who are 7 weeks pregnant, in comparison to a previous 10 week limit.