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The ruling preserves broad access to mifepristone, maintaining FDA approval of the pill.
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled to block a lower court ruling imposing restrictions on mifepristone pills, one of the drugs used in half of the country’s abortions, while litigation continues.
The short, paragraph-long order allows for any restrictions to be suspended, handing victory to the administration of Democratic President Joe Biden and mifepristone maker Danco Laboratories, which has appealed the lower court’s ruling.
Many Democrats and abortion advocates welcomed Friday’s decision, though they were quick to note it was a temporary stopgap while the court case over mifepristone availability continued.
“This fight is not over yet,” Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts tweeted. “Extremist Republican politicians continue to undermine women’s rights to make their own health care decisions across the country.”
Abortion rights in the US are under attack. Since conservatives on the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, 13 states have banned abortion altogether; on April 7, an unelected judge in Texas issued an aggressive decision that reversed FDA approval of the drug Mefe Approval of ketones. pic.twitter.com/yLZI8OMFW2
— Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) April 21, 2023
However, conservative Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito dissented from the court’s decision Friday to keep mifepristone use unchanged.
In his dissent, Alito dismissed concerns that “regulatory ‘chaos'” would ensue if the Supreme Court enforces restrictions on mifepristone.
He also accused the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which approved mifepristone in 2000, of “evading necessary agency process and judicial review,” echoing a lower court’s criticism of the case.
“Currently, applicants are not entitled to a stay because they have not demonstrated that they may have suffered irreparable harm in the interim,” Alito wrote in his dissent, noting that the proposed restrictions would “simply reinstate the circumstances that existed.” From 2000 to 2016.
He added that his opinion “does not express any view” on “whether FDA acted lawfully in any of its actions regarding mifepristone,” which is the central issue in the ongoing litigation.
While the Supreme Court is doing the right thing so far, don’t forget that 147 Republicans in Congress are still asking the court to permanently ban the women’s healthcare drug mifepristone. This is their name. pic.twitter.com/A6KbV5V6d9
— Bill Pascrell Jr. 🇺🇸🇺🇦 (@BillPascrell) April 21, 2023
U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk granted the anti-abortion plaintiffs’ request on April 7 to temporarily suspend mifepristone’s approval while he weighed whether the FDA erroneously approved the drug more than two decades ago.
An anti-abortion rights coalition called the Hippocratic League of Medicine is among the plaintiffs suing the FDA over its approval of mifepristone.
Kacsmaryk’s ban would effectively remove mifepristone from the U.S. market. But his decision gave the Biden administration seven days to appeal before the ban takes effect.
The government’s appeal brought the case April 12 to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, which preserved the availability of mifepristone but also upheld the limitations of the Kacsmaryk decision, which would roll back to the 2016 standard .
The restrictions include allowing mifepristone use only up to seven weeks into pregnancy, rather than the 10 weeks the FDA has allowed in recent years. It also required multiple in-person doctor visits and a ban on sending mifepristone through the mail.
This is a developing news story.More updates to follow.