Update (9:21 a.m. on April 13)

In a late ruling on April 12, a panel of three judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled that “it appears that the statute of limitations bars plaintiffs’ challenges to the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of mifepristone in 2000,” but said that the actions taken by the FDA since 2016 are able to be challenged, including:

  • Approving mifepristone for use up to 10 weeks into a pregnancy;
  • Lifting an in-person dispensing requirement;
  • Allowing the drug to be sent through the mail.

According to reports on MyHighPlains.com, both the plaintiffs and the defendants could now appeal this ruling to the Supreme Court.

Original Story:

AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — Officials with the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit are asking the plaintiffs to respond to the recent motions brought forward by the defendants in the mifepristone-related lawsuit, which began in Amarillo Federal Court.

According to documents filed late Monday in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, the court is asking for the lawyers from Alliance Defending Freedom, the team representing the plaintiffs, to respond to the appellants’ “stay pending appeal” motion and the “stay order.”

According to previous reports by MyHighPlains.com, the United States Department of Justice asked the court of appeals to extend the mifepristone-related stay after U.S. District Judge Matthew J. Kacsmaryk’s ruling last week. In the order, Kacsmaryk, the judge for the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas Amarillo Division, stayed the United States Food and Drug Administration’s approval of mifepristone, an order which will be in effect starting Friday.

In its motion, the defendants argued that Kacsmaryk lacked standing to challenge the FDA’s approval of mifepristone, ruling based on speculation, allegations and hypothetical scenarios.

“Rather than preserving the status quo, as preliminary relief is meant to do, the district court upended decades of reliance by blocking FDA’s approval of mifepristone and depriving patients of access to this safe and effective treatment, based on the court’s own misguided assessment of the drug’s safety,” the motion reads. “The district court took this extraordinary step despite the fact that plaintiffs did not seek relief for many years after mifepristone’s original approval, waited nearly a year after the most recent FDA actions they seek to challenge and then asked the court to defer any relief until after a final resolution of the case.”

Officials are asking for this response to be filed “on or before April 11 by midnight,” according to the documents.

This comes after a number of states filed a motion in support of the defendant’s motion for a stay. These states, including Deleware, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and Vermont, were part of a lawsuit in Washington, which countered Kacsmaryk’s ruling, blocking the FDA from making any changes to mifepristone access in 17 states, as well as the District of Columbia.

Officials said in the documents that the states’ experience “confirms decades of scientific evidence showing that mifepristone is a safe, reliable and effective method for early pregnancy termination.” They also said that mifepristone’s availability is “crucial… to provide access to abortion in low-income, underserved and rural communities where a nonmedication abortion procedure… may be unavailable.”

For the latest Amarillo news and regional updates, check with MyHighPlains.com and tune in to KAMR Local 4 News at 5:00, 6:00, and 10:00 p.m. and Fox 14 News at 9:00 p.m. CST.

This is a developing story. MyHighPlains.com will update this article as new information becomes available.

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