Mifepristone: the Supreme Court rejects the limits imposed on the abortion pill

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Legend, Protesters surrounded the Supreme Court in March as the justices heard arguments in the case.

The U.S. Supreme Court has unanimously rejected an attempt to restrict access to the abortion pill mifepristone.

The ruling, coming two years after the court struck down the nation’s abortion guarantee, was praised by pro-choice activists.

The judges ruled that the defendants, a group of doctors and anti-abortion activists, did not have the legal right to sue.

But they left the door open to other attempts to limit the drug’s availability.

  • Author, Holly Honderich
  • Role, BBC News, Washington

Mifepristone is one of two medications used in medical abortion, now the most common method of terminating a pregnancy in the United States.

The plaintiffs, known as the Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine, had argued that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval of the drug should be withdrawn.

But during arguments over the case in March, several of the court’s nine justices were skeptical that any of the plaintiffs had suffered harm because of the availability of mifepristone – which is necessary to have the capacity legal to pursue.

“Defendants have sincere legal, moral, and ideological objections to elective abortion and the relaxation of FDA regulations,” Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote on behalf of the court, “but they have failed to demonstrate” any real harm.

“A defendant’s desire to make a drug less available to others does not give him the right to sue,” he also wrote.

The highest court overturned Roe v Wade, overturning a federal right to abortion, in June 2022. Since then, 21 states have moved to restrict abortion earlier in pregnancy than the standard they had set. Seventeen of them banned the procedure after six weeks or earlier.

Thursday’s ruling has no impact on these laws: medical abortion remains illegal in states that ban abortion. But abortion pills have been an effective solution to these bans, with thousands of pills being mailed to restrictive states.

Pro-choice activists were encouraged that access to abortion pills had been preserved, but warned that the Supreme Court’s decision was a mixed victory.

At least three states – Missouri, Kansas and Idaho – have also opposed the FDA’s approval of the drug in court. Thursday’s decision by the Supreme Court does not preclude these future challenges.

“This decision is not a ‘win’ for abortion, it simply maintains the status quo,” Nancy Northup, president of the pro-choice Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a statement.

“The attacks on abortion pills will not stop here: the anti-abortion movement sees how crucial abortion pills are in this post-Roe world. »

In a statement, President Joe Biden echoed those comments, saying the decision “does not change the fact that the fight for reproductive freedom continues.”

“The stakes couldn’t be higher for women across America,” he said.

Anti-abortion groups criticized the decision. But these groups also indicated that the fight would continue.

“This is a sad day for everyone who values ​​women’s health and the lives of unborn children,” said Katie Daniel, state policy director for Susan B Anthony Pro-Life America . “But the fight against dangerous mail-order abortion drugs is not over.”

Abortion is expected to be a top issue at the polls this fall.

Video caption, Texas abortion law: “I waited for my daughter to die so I wouldn’t die”

In recent months, Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, has called for compromise from members of his party, suggesting that strict bans were politically costly.

Speaking to House Republicans on Thursday morning, Trump appeared to argue for exceptions to anti-abortion laws, saying that “like Ronald Reagan, you must have three choices: the mother’s life, rape and ‘incest’.

He added: “But you have to follow your own heart.”

The two-drug regimen was approved by the FDA in 2000 for use through 10 weeks of pregnancy. A patient is first given mifepristone to induce an abortion, then misoprostol to empty the uterus.

Since 2016, the FDA has made the drug easier to access and allowed doctors to hold virtual appointments with patients and send prescriptions by mail. These more recent approvals were called into question in this case.

Nearly two-thirds of all abortions in the United States are now medical abortions, according to the Guttmacher Institute, which supports access to the procedure.

More than 1 million pregnancies were terminated in the United States last year, the highest number in more than a decade, according to the institute.

Over two decades of use, the FDA, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists (ACOG), and other mainstream medical organizations have maintained that mifepristone and misoprostol are safe for women.

U.S. studies indicate that medical abortion is about 95% effective in ending a pregnancy and requires additional medical monitoring less than 1% of the time.

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