A federal appeals court ruled late Wednesday that an abortion pill can remain on the market but only under strict conditions that prohibit its use beyond seven weeks of pregnancy and bar its distribution by mail.

In a 42-page decision, a three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed to temporarily block the central aspect of a Texas-based federal judge’s ruling that suspended the FDA’s 2000 approval of the drug, mifepristone. But by a 2-1 vote, the panel permitted other aspects of that ruling to take effect that would block a seven-year effort by the FDA to widen access to the drug.

Among the policies temporarily blocked by the appeals court’s decision: the FDA’s decision to expand mifepristone’s availability until the 10th week of pregnancy; authorization for retail pharmacies to dispense the drug; eliminating the requirement for in-person office visits to obtain a mifepristone prescription and allowing physicians to prescribe the pills via telemedicine; allowing non-physicians to prescribe or administer the drug; and ending a requirement for prescribers to report “non-fatal adverse events” related to mifepristone.

Reining in the drug’s availability while keeping it on the market is likely to dramatically diminish its usefulness to patients seeking to terminate pregnancies in Republican-led states where severe restrictions on abortion kicked in or were passed after the Supreme Court overturned the federal constitutional right to abortion last June. The decision will also significantly hamper access in blue states that have sought to maintain broad access to the pills — both for their own residents and for the surge of patients traveling across state lines to terminate their pregnancies.

Erin Hawley, ADF’s senior counsel in the case, stressed that they will continue pushing to have the FDA’s original approval of mifepristone overturned.

“We anticipate that we might be able to persuade the Fifth Circuit on a fuller briefing that the 2000 ruling is in play,” she said. “But for now, we’ve got a great victory in the fact that there are now three required doctor visits to make sure women are safe, and the FDA complies with the rule of law….”

Full story at Politico.