Demonstrators support abortion rights at the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC, April 15, 2023.
Andrew Caballero-Reynolds | AFP | Getty Images
The Supreme Court on Friday ordered the abortion drug mifepristone to be made widely available as cases unfold in lower courts.
The High Court’s decision was made in response to an urgent request from the state. Department of Justice To block lower court rulings that would severely restrict access to medicines, even in some states abortion remains legal.
The case is now scheduled to be heard in the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. The Court of Appeals is scheduled for oral argument on Wednesday, May 17, at 1:00 pm (CT).
Mifepristone has sparked a legal battle over abortion. It was his landmark 1973 decision that guaranteed abortion as a constitutional right nationwide since the Supreme Court overturned his Roe v. Wade decision last summer.
Mifepristone, used in combination with another drug called misoprostol, is the most common method of aborting pregnancies in the United States, accounting for about half of all abortions.
President Joe Biden said a court decision made mifepristone available to women and the FDA has approved terminating early pregnancies. said his administration would fight to protect access to mifepristone.
“Stay with me forever [the Food and Drug Administration’s] The evidence-based approval of mifepristone, and my administration, will continue to defend the FDA’s independent professional body that reviews, approves, and regulates a wide range of prescription drugs,” the president said.
Alexis McGill Johnson, president of Planned Parenthood, said reproductive health care providers were freed by the Supreme Court ruling.
However, McGill Johnson warned that access to mifepristone is still in jeopardy as legal battles unfold in the Court of Appeals.
“Mifepristone’s approval remains intact and is on the market for now, but patients and health care providers should not be at the mercy of the court system,” said McGill-Johnson. , as well as access to abortion and other reproductive health care, remain under great threat.”
Justices Samuel Alito and Justice Clarence Thomas, both conservatives, opposed the court’s majority decision to grant emergency requests from DOJ and Danko Laboratories, distributors of the brand-name drug Mifeplex.
In an emergency request, DOJ and Danco told the Supreme Court that the lower court-imposed restrictions had adjusted drug labeling to comply with the FDA order, effectively keeping mifepristone out of the market for several months. This would deny women access to FDA-approved drugs that are safe alternatives to surgical abortion, they argued.
Alito rejected the argument in a dissenting opinion. The judge said the FDA could exercise enforcement discretion as the case progressed, allowing Danco to continue distributing mifepristone.
The court’s majority decision to maintain the status quo means that mifepristone is available by mail and women can get prescription drugs. There is no need to see a doctor directly.
But the drug remains largely unavailable in the 12 states that have effectively banned abortion in the past year. Other states also have much stricter limits than FDA regulations.
National legal battle ends Mifepristone began with a lawsuit brought by the Hippocratic Medical Union, a coalition of physicians opposed to abortion. These doctors tried to force the FDA to remove the drug from the United States entirely.
Earlier this month, a U.S. District Court Judge Matthew Kaksmalik It ruled in favor of anti-abortion doctors and issued a sweeping order to stop the nationwide sale of mifepristone.
A few days later, the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit blocked part of Kacsmaryk’s order, allowing Mifeprex to remain on the market. But an appeals court judge has imposed restrictions that severely limit access to medicines.
An appeals court blocked the mailing of drugs, imposed a doctor’s visit as a condition for obtaining the drugs, and shortened the period women could take the pill to seven weeks pregnant.
An appeals court judge also suspended the 2019 approval of a generic version of mifepristone. His GenBioPro, a company that sells generic versions, told the High Court that a large portion of the country’s drug supply would “disappear overnight” if the Court of Appeals ruling takes effect.
GenBioPro said it supplies two-thirds of the mifepristone used for abortion in the US