A group of more than 250 Democratic Congress members signed an amicus brief urging the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to reverse its ruling to limit access to the abortion pill mifepristone, which is currently paused as it goes through the appeals process.
The lawmakers argued in their brief that Congress granted the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authority to review and approve drugs and “did not invite federal courts to substitute their judgment for the expert conclusions of FDA’s scientists.”
The case regarding access to mifepristone bounced around the federal court system throughout April. A judge in Texas initially issued a ruling blocking the FDA’s approval of the drug. The case then quickly went through the appeals court and Supreme Court, which sent it back down to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and ruled that approval for the abortion pill would remain in place for the duration of the appeals process.
The appeals court overruled the decision to block the FDA’s approval of mifepristone, finding that too much time had passed since the medication was approved. However, the court ruled that some guidelines surrounding the drug could be challenged, including its ability to be authorized for up to 10 weeks into a pregnancy, approvals of its generic form and it being sent through the mail.
An oral argument for the federal government’s appeal of that ruling is scheduled for May 17 in front of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.
“Although the district court styled its relief as ‘less drastic,’ it is not apparent that its consequences are less disruptive than those of a mandatory injunction,” the amicus brief read.
Activists and lawmakers have warned the implications of this case would extend far beyond the U.S. reproductive health landscape. This case could open up the possibility of the approval for other drugs being undermined.
“Providers and patients rely on the availability of thousands of FDA-approved drugs to treat or manage a range of medical conditions, including asthma, HIV, infertility, heart disease, diabetes, and more,” the lawmakers wrote in the brief.
The lawmakers were led by Democratic Sens. Chuck Schumer (N.Y.), Patty Murray (Wash.), Dick Durbin (Ill.), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Democratic Reps. Hakeem Jeffries (N.Y.), Katherine Clark (Mass.), Frank Pallone Jr. (N.J.), Jerry Nadler (N.Y.), Barbara Lee (Calif.) and Diana DeGette (Colo.).