Medication abortions typically use two drugs taken together: Mifepristone and Misoprostol. This ruling only affects Mifepristone. The other drug, Misopostol, is still available, but its use has always required the physician to prescribe it “off-label,” meaning it is not FDA-approved for abortions. It is FDA-approved only for use to prevent stomach ulcers while taking NSAIDs.
In an unprecedented move, U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk on Friday suspended the Food and Drug Administration’s longtime approval of key abortion pill mifepristone, though he gave the government a week to appeal his decision. If the ruling does eventually go into effect, it would curtail access to the standard regimen for medication abortion nationwide.
The FDA approved mifepristone more than 20 years ago to be used in combination with a second drug, misoprostol, to terminate pregnancies at up to 10 weeks. Over half of U.S. abortions are done by medication abortion, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights.
If the stay on the FDA’s mifepristone approval goes into effect, the drug would no longer be available anywhere in the U.S. That would leave a surgical procedure or off-label use of misoprostol on its own as the only options in states where abortion is legal.