Tag Archive for: The Courts

‘Huge Victory’: 5th Circuit Rules Against Mailing Abortion Pills and Ignoring Women’s Injuries

The Biden administration suffered a major setback, as a federal appeals court has ruled the abortion industry cannot send the abortion pill through the mail, nor ignore the life-threatening harms suffered by the women who take it. The unanimous decision, which pro-life advocates say could save tens of thousands of lives, likely places the pro-life movement and the abortion lobby on another collision course for the Supreme Court.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, based in New Orleans, ruled against laxer safety standards placed on the abortion pill by the Obama and Biden administrations. In the case, Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine v. U.S. Food and Drug Administration, a collection of doctors and OB-GYNs represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom argued the FDA had negligently abused its expedited approval of the chemical abortion drug mifepristone in 2000 for political purposes.

The panel believed the doctors waited too long to file a legal challenge, as the statute of limitations had likely expired. But it overturned abortion expansions made in 2021 by the Biden administration and in 2016 by the Obama-Biden administration. Wednesday’s ruling:

  • reduces the number of weeks mifepristone may be dispensed from 10 weeks to seven;
  • stipulates that only a physician may prescribe the pill, also known as RU-486;
  • ends telemed abortions by requiring an abortion-minded woman to have three in-person visits with a doctor: the first to confirm pregnancy and to take mifepristone, the second to take misoprostol, and a follow-up to check for adverse effects caused by the chemical abortion;
  • bars abortion pills from being sent through the mail; and
  • mandates that abortionists report all adverse events caused by mifepristone, not merely when the pill causes a woman’s death.

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins called the ruling a “significant victory for the health and safety of women.” Former Congressman Jody Hice said the judgment constitutes “a huge, huge victory for the pro-life movement as a whole and for protecting the health of women.”

The Biden administration “unlawfully allowed for mail-order abortions,” ADF senior counsel Erin Hawley told Hice on “Washington Watch” Thursday. “The Fifth Circuit’s decision puts an end to that.” The decision “makes good on the promise of Dobbs” by stopping abortion activists in Democrat-controlled states from shipping mifepristone into pro-life states, eviscerating state pro-life protections for the unborn.

The ruling reversed abortion-expanding executive actions taken by two Democratic administrations. Barack Obama and Joe Biden both moved to change the rules governing the distribution of mifepristone, known as Risk Evaluation and Mitigation System (REMS). In 2016, the Obama-Biden administration said abortionists no longer had to report serious side effects of the abortion pill to the FDA’s Adverse Events Reporting System (FAERS), only deaths. In December 2021, Biden’s FDA allowed the abortion pills to be prescribed online, without a medical check-up to verify the woman does not have an ectopic pregnancy, or that she is pregnant at all. The impact weighed heavily on the panel.

“In loosening mifepristone’s safety restrictions, FDA failed to address several important concerns about whether the drug would be safe for the women who use it,” wrote Judge Jennifer Elrod in the majority opinion. “It failed to consider the cumulative effect of removing several important safeguards at the same time.”

One of the plaintiffs in the case, the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologist (AAPLOG), told The Washington Stand the ruling is “a first step towards reprioritizing women’s health over the interests of the abortion industry and its allies within our profession.” FRC senior fellow Meg Kilgannon stressed that, although the abortion pill is “never safe for the baby” — “the baby is going to die” in any abortion — these terms constitute a “huge improvement over” existing practices. Giving abortion pills directly to the mother is “medically much safer for women” than shipping them via the mail, because it “ensures that no third party can have access to them and then further exploit women: a trafficker, a human trafficker, someone who would give these drugs to a woman unbeknownst to her.”

Pro-life advocates “should be cautiously optimistic” as the case moves forward, Rev. Jim Harden of CompassCare told TWS. “Pending the Supreme Court’s review, the drug remains available to women without medical oversight. Furthermore, the abortion industry continues to illegally ship the drug to women’s homes in violation of 18 U.S. Code § 1461 and 1462,” conventionally known as the Comstock Act. Two days after Christmas 2022, Biden’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) issued an opinion that pharmacies may mail or ship abortion pills to pro-life states.

These measures will not take effect immediately, if at all. The Supreme Court issued a stay requiring the case to be fully adjudicated, possibly all the way to the High Court, before the appeals court ruling can take effect. Justices have not yet indicated if they plan to hear the case without a conflicting ruling from another court.

The panoply of possible harms has multiplied as U.S. chemical abortions in the U.S. doubled between 2011 and 2020. Mifepristone now accounts for 54% of all U.S. abortions, according to the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute. The current regimen of unsupervised “mail-order abortion pills put thousands of women and girls at risk of serious complications from abortion pills every year,” said Katie Daniel, Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America’s state policy director.

Studies have documented that the two-drug abortion cocktail causes four times the level of harmful side effects for women than surgical abortions. The FDA documented 4,207 adverse events from mifepristone use — including 26 deaths, 1,045 hospitalizations, 603 events requiring a blood transfusion, and 413 infections between 2000 and 2021. One study found that as many as 35 of every 100 women who ingest both pills will end up in the emergency room. In a pending lawsuit in New York City, a 16-year-old girl swore that mifepristone left her permanently “sick, sore, lame and disabled” — and caused her child, who survived, to be born with “profound birth defects.”

“I’ve personally treated many women for complications from the abortion pill (mifepristone and misoprostol), including performing emergency surgery on a woman who bled for two months after receiving these drugs,” noted Dr. Ingrid Skop, an OB-GYN who serves as vice president of the Charlotte Lozier Institute. “Those promoting unsupervised DIY abortion pills clearly prioritize the deaths of unborn children over the health and safety of women.”

A majority (55%) of women who consider themselves “pro-choice” regret their decision to take mifepristone, according to a national survey from Support After Abortion. One-third of women subjected to a chemical abortion “reported an adverse change” in their lives, such as “depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and thoughts of suicide,” the group found.

Mail-order abortion “lacks any sort of meaningful medical oversight and places women in danger of serious, life-threatening complications, and ends the lives of unborn children,” Jeanne Mancini, president of the March for Life, told TWS. “The FDA has a solemn duty to prioritize health and safety over politics and should be held accountable for failing to do so.”

The Fifth Circuit partially affirmed and partially vacated a stronger decision from U.S. District Court Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, a Trump appointee, who ruled on April 7 that FDA wrongly approved mifepristone in 2000. They allowed the drug to be dispensed according to 2016 standards and allowed a 2019 motion for the name-brand Mifeprex to be dispensed as a generic drug.

Pro-life advocates hope if and when the case comes before the Supreme Court, justices will reconsider mifepristone’s controversial approval in 2000, which they contend took place under political pressure from the Clinton administration. In doing so, they state, the FDA violated the Administration Procedure Act.

“The FDA, just like any other agency, has to follow the rules. They didn’t do that for chemical abortion. They bowed to political pressure,” Hawley told Hice. The courts should view the litigation “not as an abortion case, but as a case in which an agency simply failed to follow the rules.” One of the panel’s judges — Judge James Ho, a Trump appointee — dissented that the FDA’s approval of mifepristone should be reversed, pulling mifepristone off all pharmaceutical shelves.

“The FDA exists to protect Americans from dangerous drugs, yet numerous pro-abortion presidents used the agency as a political tool to promote elective abortion at the expense of pregnant women and their preborn children,” Texas Right to Life president John Seago told The Washington Stand. “We hope the court will take accusations against the FDA seriously and will fairly examine the agency’s negligent and politically-motivated approval of this deadly abortion drug over the last 23 years.”

Multiple levels of the Biden administration immediately registered their outrage at Wednesday’s ruling. A spokesperson for Biden’s Justice Department said the administration “strongly disagrees with the Fifth Circuit’s decision” and “will be seeking Supreme Court review.” Vice President Kamala Harris deemed the decision “a threat to a woman’s freedom.” Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra stated that banning the abortion pill would have “a devastating impact on women’s health” by denying them “the medications they need.”

The Biden administration has lost no chance to push back against the Dobbs decision, which overturned Roe v. Wade and returned abortion to the democratic process for the first time in 49 years. Last July, the Biden administration’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) sent a guidance to 60,000 pharmacies threatening to take legal “corrective action” against anyone who refuses to dispense the abortion-inducing drug mifepristone to “pregnant people” and explain “how to take” it. Others continually urge the administration to go further. Before the ruling even came down, Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) advised the Biden administration to “ignore the ruling” and “keep this life-saving drug on the market,” likening lawlessness to Abraham Lincoln’s actions freeing the slaves.

Deep-blue states including CaliforniaIllinoisMarylandMassachusettsNew YorkOregon, and Washington state have begun stockpiling mifepristone (and in some cases, misoprostol). So-called “abortion sanctuaries” have promised not to prosecute abortionists who mail mifepristone across state lines, in violation of state or federal law. “Because of this, women are more at risk for chemical abortion injury now than ever before,” said CompassCare’s Jim Harden.

If justices agree to take up the decision, yet another Supreme Court ruling on abortion could impact the 2024 elections. Perkins noted that the three-judge panel — Judges James Ho, Cory Wilson, and Jennifer Walker Elrod — were all appointed by pro-life presidents, highlighting how Christians’ votes lead to concrete decisions that save lives. “With two of the justices on the Fifth Circuit appointed by President Trump” — and Elrod named to the court by George W. Bush — “this ruling also underscores the importance of presidential elections,” Perkins said.

Constitutional lawyers vow they will not relent until the abortion pill, which kills children and hurts women, is removed from all venues. “We won’t rest until the FDA and the profit-driven abortion industry are held accountable for the suffering they’ve inflicted on women and girls, as well as the deaths of countless unborn children,” said Daniels.


Ben Johnson

Ben Johnson is senior reporter and editor at The Washington Stand.

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EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2023 Family Research Council.

The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

Court Rejects Satanic Temple’s Abortion Petition

A federal court is rejecting the Satanic Temple’s petition to protect abortion as a religious ritual. The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas threw out a complaint earlier this week filed by the Satanic Temple back in 2021 and amended last year after Roe v. Wade was overturned. The complaint argued that pro-life laws in Texas infringed on the religious liberty of practicing Satanists, as abortions (especially first-trimester abortions) are a religious ritual in the Satanic Temple. The court determined that the Satanic Temple doesn’t have standing to file the complaint.

The Satanic Temple filed the initial complaint in 2021 in the wake of Texas’s heartbeat bill, citing a violation of freedom of speech and freedom of religion. After the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the Satanic Temple amended its complaint, explicating Texas’ pro-life trigger laws prevent Satanists from practicing abortion “rituals.” Lawyers for the Satanic Temple cited the Temple’s “tenets,” one of which proclaims, “One’s body is inviolable, subject to one’s own will alone,” a variation of the common, “My body, my choice” slogan often used by pro-abortion activists.

“The Satanic Temple considers it a victory when they can undermine sincerely held religious beliefs by pretending their legal complaints based on ‘religious freedom’ are legitimate and deserve the same consideration given to religions like Christianity,” Arielle Del Turco, director at Family Research Council’s Center for Religious Liberty, told The Washington Stand. “It’s good to see that the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas rejected The Satanic Temple’s lawsuit. People know this is a stunt, and we shouldn’t get caught up in their game.”

The Satanic Temple has long been an advocate of abortion and also filed suits against pro-life laws in Missouri, Idaho, and Indiana. After Roe was overturned, the Temple announced it would open an abortion facility selling abortifacient drugs and named “Samuel Alito’s Mom’s Satanic Abortion Clinic,” mockingly named after the Catholic Supreme Court Justice who wrote the opinion overturning Roe. On its website, the Satanic Temple states, “Consistent with our tenets that call for bodily autonomy and acting in accordance with best scientific evidence, The Satanic Temple religiously objects to many of the restrictions that states have enacted that interfere with abortion access.”

In 2020, a Satanic Temple spokesperson explained, “We’re objecting to the regulations that are not actually necessary for the abortion and do not offer better outcomes. [It] would be unconstitutional to require a waiting period before receiving Holy Communion. … So we expect the same rights as any other religious organization.” Perhaps somewhat ironically, the Catholic Church itself requires a sort of waiting period before receiving Holy Communion, demanding that Catholic confess their sins and receive absolution before presenting themselves to receive Communion.

Del Turco summarized the situation by noting, “[P]rogressive ideologues self-identifying as Satanists are literally going to court to defend abortion not on a scientific basis, but by claiming abortion is one of their religious ‘rituals.’ And while this is gross and shocking enough to make headlines, it just confirms what Christians have always known — that the religious fervor demonstrated by pro-abortion activists is not just political, it’s spiritual.”

No court judgment has yet been issued addressing the Satanic Temple’s lawsuits in Missouri, Idaho, and Indiana. The dismissal in Texas does not take into account the merits of the case, only the lack of standing of the plaintiff identified as “Jane Doe.”


S.A. McCarthy

S.A. McCarthy serves as a news writer at The Washington Stand.

EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2023 Family Research Council.

The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

‘Horrifying’: 21 State AGs Back Florida Parents’ Lawsuit against School for Secret Trans Talks with Daughter

On Wednesday, 21 state attorneys general filed a joint amicus brief in support of two Florida parents who are suing their daughter’s middle school for engaging in private talks with the then 13-year-old about her gender identity without her parents’ knowledge or consent.

The lawsuit filed by January and Jeffrey Littlejohn alleges that school officials at Deerlake Middle School in Tallahassee implemented a “transgender support plan” after their daughter questioned her gender at school without informing them. When January Littlejohn found out about the situation and confronted the school, she was “told by the school guidance councilor [sic] and vice-principal that they could not disclose what had been talked about in the meeting, and that Littlejohn’s daughter needed to give consent by-law for her parents to be informed about or be present for future discussions.”

“Eventually we did see the transgender support plan, which was a six-page document that they completed with my daughter, [who] was 13 at the time behind closed doors, where they asked her questions that would have absolutely impacted her safety, such as which restroom she preferred to use and which sex she preferred to room with on overnight field trips,” Littlejohn said.

The document also asked what names and pronouns the student preferred, as well as whether or not the student wanted to inform their parents about the transition. “The plan also stated to use her birth name when speaking to us in effect to deceive us of the social transition that had occurred,” Littlejohn explained.

After a federal district court in Florida sided with the school, Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen led a coalition of 21 state AGs in filing an amicus brief in support of the Littlejohns’ continued legal fight.

“This is a very seminal case,” he contended on Thursday’s edition of “Washington Watch with Tony Perkins.” “I mean, look, you’ve got a situation here where a public school has basically inserted itself between a child and the child’s parents, and that should horrify everyone. What’s even more horrifying is that a federal district court in Florida found that that was okay, which is why we’re going up to the 11th Circuit.”

Knudsen continued, “It’s a long-standing facet of American jurisprudence that parents are the primary decision makers for their children. We call them minors for a reason. They haven’t reached the age of majority yet, to use a legal term. We don’t let minors join the military. We don’t let them consume alcohol. We don’t let them vote until they’re 18. And there’s good reason for that because their brains are not fully developed. We know this from science, but we also know from thousands of years of just being humans that parents are in a better place to make decisions for their children.”

In addition to Montana, the states who signed on to the brief include: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and West Virginia.

In response to Perkins’s question about where a court ruling against the parents could lead, Knudsen was frank. “Does it go next to actual transitioning? Does it go to surgery? … You’re asking the right question — where does this end? That’s what’s so concerning about this.”

The Montana attorney general went on to assert that alternative forms of schooling have only increased in stature in recent years as a result of a variety of public education controversies.

“I would argue that between COVID and some of these crazy decisions that we’re getting out of some school districts, this has been a boon for homeschooling,” Knudsen said. “It’s been a boon for Christian education. It’s been a boon for private schooling. School choice has really benefited from this. And I don’t think the schools probably intended on that. But I think it’s a positive outcome here.”

Perkins concurred, commending Knudsen for his leadership in support of parental rights. “We’ve got to make sure that we have individuals like you that are protecting the rights of parents to make those decisions, because don’t think they’ll stop just with their gender transition. They’ll reach to try to keep [parents] from making educational choices.”


Dan Hart

Dan Hart is senior editor at The Washington Stand.



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EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2023 Family Research Council.

The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

Guilty! Prosecutors Link Abortion to Infanticide

Pro-life leaders have always said legalized abortion devalues life and paves the way to infanticide — a view verified by a recent tragedy and upheld in a court of law.

First, the tragedy: A young mother has been convicted of delivering twin babies in her home and letting them die of neglect. Maya Caston, then 25 of St. Louis, gave birth while sitting on her toilet on January 6, 2020. Caston then wrapped her newborns’ mouths and noses in a towel and did not wash or feed them for two days. (She testified that she tried to feed the children but, when they refused to take a bottle, she took no further action.) When they died two days later, she called the police to say she had given birth to two stillborn children, a boy and a girl. Officers soon realized the infants had not died from a miscarriage.

The St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office initially charged Caston with two counts of second-degree murder and child abuse. Last Friday, a jury found her guilty of involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment.

Now, the remarkable legal admission: The court directly tied her double infanticide to legal abortion. The district attorney’s office highlighted how, in the months before she gave birth, Caston searched the internet for such terms as “cheap abortion pills,” “free abortion clinic,” and “can you cause a miscarriage if you hit yourself in the stomach hard enough?” The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports, “Prosecutors argued that Caston’s extensive internet searches for miscarriages and abortion methods in the months before she gave birth, her initial lie to police and her lack of action to get care for the twins proved she caused the deaths.” Within hours of her children’s birth, she searched tips about burying them in her yard.

Jurors also dismissed claims that Caston, who is cognitively delayed, lacked the ability to understand her actions were wrong. (Defense attorneys had submitted an IQ test placing her in the bottom one percentile of intelligence.) “It’s a sad situation, but it’s still murder,” said Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Thomas Dittmeier in his closing argument.

Caston’s shocking actions cut to the heart of the matter in a way only possible for the truly simple. She intuitively understood and applied the messages sent by American culture and laws, only to be punished for exposing the tragedy that lies at the heart of those institutions.

Infanticide Mirrors Abortion

The only criteria separating abortion from infanticide is timing — and, for now, legality. If an unborn child is a “parasite” with no right to demand that her mother assures her survival, why should she have any claim on her mother’s “autonomy” after her birth?

Desperately clinging to DIY chemical abortion, the abortion industry and its political allies ask women to administer their own abortions at home. Caston took that to its logical conclusion and did not pay the abortionists for miscarriage-inducing pills.

Even the location of her infanticide mirrored the advice of abortionists such as Carmen Landau. She told an undercover Live Action employee seeking to abort a viable, 27-week-old unborn baby that, if she feels she’s going to give birth before the late-term abortion is completed, she should “sit on the toilet.”

“If it comes out, then it comes out. Flush it,” an employee of a New York City abortion facility, Dr. Emily’s Women’s Health Center in the Bronx, told Live Action during another late-term abortion sting. If the child were born alive inside the abortion facility, she explained, the abortionist would “put it in a container — like, a jar — with solution and send it to the lab.”

What would happen, the mother asked, if the newborn is breathing or moving after the abortion? “The solution will make it stop,” the abortion industry employer responded. “That’s the whole purpose of the solution.”

… And that’s the whole purpose of the towel. Legal abortion apparently allows newborns to die; Caston merely cut out the middleman. The Democratic Party platform demands taxpayer-funded abortion until birth; Caston simply extended those parameters by 48 hours.

Caston’s conviction serves as an indictment against much of our political class. When the Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act came before the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this month, all but one Democrat voted against punishing abortionists who would treat newborn babies the same way Caston did. At least one Democrat introduced a bill that would have effectively decriminalized Caston’s actions. An alleged “oversight” in a California’s Assembly Bill 2223introduced by Assemblywoman Buffy Wicks (D), banned police from investigating any “perinatal death” that took place anywhere from a few days, up to 30 or “60 days following delivery.”

Caston’s heartbreaking experience should cause Christians to reflect deeply on the Bible’s neglected teachings about the role our laws play in shaping our national character.

The Law Is Our Teacher, For Better or Worse

Political philosophers have long cited the didactic and catechetical aspects of the law in shaping and forming the consciences — and behavior — of citizens. Aristotle wrote, “It is difficult for one to be guided rightly towards virtue from an early age unless he is brought up under such laws. … [T]he nurture and pursuits of the young should be regulated by laws, for when they become habitual they are not painful.” Government does more than regulate the commercial interactions of atomized individuals. “The state ought not to be considered as nothing better than a partnership agreement in a trade of pepper and coffee, calico or tobacco, or some other such low concern” of commerce, said Edmund Burke. It is, instead, “a partnership in every virtue, and in all perfection … linking the lower with the higher natures, connecting the visible and invisible world.”

Burke’s oration echoed biblical injunctions. Earthly laws should punish evil and reward those who do well (Romans 13:3). In the process, they teach us right from wrong. The Apostle Paul tells us even the Old Testament law acted as “our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ” (Galatians 3:24). When unjust laws reign, they teach citizens to call good evil and evil good (Isaiah 5:20) … and they bring us to the Antichrist. In the process, consciences become degraded, morality becomes warped, and society fills with the blood of the innocent. Wicked laws inflict the deepest wounds on those who, like Caston, most rely on society’s cues to lighten their darkness. “If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!” (Matthew 6:23.)

American society taught that life, made in the image of God, deserves no more dignified treatment than a bowel movement; that DIY abortions are the path to liberation; and that an infant’s life begins “when the mother thinks it begins.” Then it punished Maya Caston for taking that message to heart and holding up a mirror to the culture of death. The abortion-political complex shows no signs of mitigating its rhetoric, or its actions. Heartrending stories like Caston’s will continue until America learns to apply Dittmeier’s summation to every abortion: “It’s a sad situation, but it’s still murder.”


Ben Johnson

Ben Johnson is senior reporter and editor at The Washington Stand.


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EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished. All rights reserved. The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.