A federal appeals court has ruled that the abortion pill mifepristone will remain available in the US for the time being, but its distribution will be restricted.

The judgment comes a week after District Judge Matthew J Kacsmaryk, a devout Christian and a Trump administration appointee in Amarillo, Texas, signed an injunction directing the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to halt its approval.

A conservative Christian group, Alliance Defending Freedom, brought the lawsuit alleging the drug was not being regulated properly.

Pic: AP
Pic: AP

The latest ruling from the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans supersedes Mr Kacsmaryk’s decision.

Anyone seeking to obtain mifepristone will be required to make an in-person visit to a doctor.

Significant parts of the Texas judgment remain, however, and are set to take effect on Friday.

As well as requiring three in-person doctor visits, the drug can only be used during the first seven weeks of pregnancy, down from the current 10.

Read more:
Why could mifepristone be banned in the US?
What’s changed since Roe v Wade was overturned?

President Biden has already said his administration will fight the Texas ruling.

“Let’s be clear – the only way to stop those who are committed to taking away women’s rights and freedoms in every state is to elect a Congress who will pass a law restoring Roe versus Wade,” he said.

“Vice President [Kamala] Harris and I will continue to lead the fight to protect a woman’s right to an abortion, and to make her own decisions about her own health.”

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‘This is a dangerous precedent’

The US Justice Department is appealing the Texas court ruling. It said in a statement: “If allowed to take effect, the [Texas] court’s order would thwart FDA’s scientific judgment and severely harm women, particularly those for whom mifepristone is a medical or practical necessity.”

Hundreds of executives working in the biotech and pharmaceutical industries signed an open letter on Monday calling for the reversal of the Texas ruling, saying it undermines the FDA’s authority and ignores decades of scientific evidence on the drug’s safety.

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