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Three facts about mifepristone ahead of ruling by 5th Circuit

The Department of Justice has appealed a decision on mifepristone onto the 5th Circuit, where its future remains unclear.
Three facts about mifepristone ahead of ruling by 5th Circuit
Posted at 10:55 PM, Apr 12, 2023

Friday is the deadline set by a federal judge in Texas regarding an order that, if it's allowed to take effect, would block nationwide the use of mifepristone, commonly referred to as the abortion pill. 

The Department of Justice has appealed the decision to the 5th Circuit, where it remains unclear whether judges there will allow the pill to be blocked or not. 

An appeal to the Supreme Court following the decision by the 5th Circuit is all but assured. 

Right now, the biggest legal question is whether the courts will ban the pill later this week as more formal hearings get scheduled or if the pill can still be prescribed until those hearings can take place. 

The first fact to remember is that if mifepristone is banned, medication abortions can still occur in states where abortion is legal.

That's because mifepristone isn't the only drug abortion providers can use.

Typically, mifepristone is used with the drug misoprostol in a medication abortion.

Multiple organizations have said though that using just one drug, misoprostol, is safe and effective too. 

In fact, that method has been approved by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the World Health Organization.

However, some providers have reported that this option can produce more side effects, like nausea and vomiting. 

This week, Scripps News spoke with Jen Klein, the director of President Biden's Gender Policy Counsel, who expressed optimism. 

"I think that we are going to be in a position where we can continue to ensure access to mifepristone," Klein told Scripps News. 

The second fact to remember is that advocates won't easily give up offering the abortion drug even if the pill is blocked.

In fact, some lawmakers have even suggested the Biden administration should ignore the ruling — including Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio Cortez of New York and Republican Congresswoman Nancy Mace of South Carolina.

Elisa Wells, with Plan C, a reproductive rights advocacy group, says efforts to stockpile the drug in preparation of a ban have been underway for months. 

Her website provides free legal advice and details on how options vary state-to-state. 

In some cases, Wells' website recommends picking up pills in Mexico.

"We don't call it an underground movement., we call it an above-ground movement happening already," Wells said. 

"There is a robust pipeline that comes in mostly from India," she added. "We know these are coming in in the tens of thousands." 

The third fact to remember is that conservatives have a legal advantage. 

That's because the Supreme Court sided with Americans who are against abortion last year, and many of those same groups want mifepristone banned this year.

Carol Tobias is president of the organization National Right to Life. She says Americans should expect more challenges like this with anti-abortion leaders interested in stopping as many abortions as possible.

"We knew it was not going to be over once the court overturned Roe," Tobias said. 

SEE MORE: Mexico Shipping Abortion Pills To U.S.

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