Supreme Court Rejects Attempt to Restrict Access to Abortion Pill

todayJune 13, 2024 17

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In a unanimous decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that a group of doctors lacked the legal standing to challenge the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) regulation of the abortion pill mifepristone, thus ensuring continued access to the medication nationwide. Justice Brett Kavanaugh authored the opinion, marking another significant moment for abortion rights following the conservative majority’s 2022 decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Justice Kavanaugh wrote, “Plaintiffs are pro-life, oppose elective abortion, and have sincere legal, moral, ideological, and policy objections to mifepristone being prescribed and used by others. Because plaintiffs do not prescribe or use mifepristone, plaintiffs are unregulated parties who seek to challenge FDA’s regulation of others.” The court determined that the plaintiffs’ complex theories failed to prove any direct injury from the FDA’s actions, thus lacking the necessary standing under Article III.

Mifepristone, part of a two-drug regimen for medication abortions, remains the most common method of abortion in the U.S. With this ruling, mifepristone will continue to be available under existing conditions, which include mail delivery and no in-person dispensation requirement.

The lead plaintiff, the Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine, represented anti-abortion rights doctors who argued that the FDA’s regulations were flawed. The Biden administration defended the FDA, emphasizing the agency’s scientific backing and decades of safe use. The court’s decision focused primarily on the issue of standing, with Kavanaugh concluding that the plaintiffs “failed to demonstrate that FDA’s relaxed regulatory requirements likely would cause them to suffer an injury in fact.”

Kavanaugh further noted that federal courts were not the appropriate venue for the plaintiffs’ grievances. Instead, concerns should be directed to the President, the FDA, or Congress.

Drug manufacturer Danco, which supported mifepristone’s defense, praised the ruling. A spokeswoman for Danco, Abigail Long, stated, “The court maintained the stability of the FDA drug approval process, which is based on the agency’s expertise and on which patients, healthcare providers, and the U.S. pharmaceutical industry rely.”

However, abortion opponents expressed their disappointment. Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America policy director Katie Daniel remarked, “It is a sad day for all who value women’s health and unborn children’s lives, but the fight to stop dangerous mail-order abortion drugs is not over.”

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