Supremes Anger Pro-Life Advocates With Abortion Pill Decision

United States Supreme Court

( – Late on Friday, the Supreme Court angered many pro-life advocates by issuing a stay on lower court rulings regarding the abortion pill, effectively preserving access to the drug. Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito dissented in the 7-2 ruling.

As a result, the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval of mifepristone, a common abortion drug, will remain in place during the appeals process.

This decision means that the Fifth Circuit’s attempt to limit FDA rules, which allowed the abortion pill to be sent by mail and used later in pregnancy, will not take effect.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) filed an emergency appeal on April 14, requesting the Supreme Court to grant an administrative stay and a stay pending its appeal in the Fifth Circuit.

The Supreme Court granted a five-day administrative stay last Friday, which was extended by two days on Wednesday.

A preliminary injunction against the FDA’s approval of mifepristone was first issued on April 7 by Northern District of Texas Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk. On the same day, a federal judge in Washington issued a conflicting ruling in response to a lawsuit by twelve Democratic state attorneys general, ordering the FDA not to roll back approval.

Following the FDA’s swift appeal, the Fifth Circuit ruled 2-1 on April 12 to partially grant the FDA’s request for a stay on Kacsmaryk’s decision. This decision lifted the total block on the abortion pill’s approval but left restrictions on rules issued by the agency after 2016 in place.

After 2016, the FDA eliminated key safeguards, allowing the pill to be sent through the mail and extending the latest date it could be used in pregnancy to 10 weeks.

In his dissent, Alito clarified that denying a stay would not indicate any view on the FDA’s lawfulness concerning mifepristone. He also noted that the narrow stay put in place by the Fifth Circuit would not remove the drug from the market but restore the circumstances between 2000 and 2016.

Alito criticized the FDA’s argument that lower court decisions would create regulatory “chaos.” The FDA warned that allowing lower court orders to stand would disrupt the regulatory regime governing a drug considered safe and effective, which more than five million American women have used over the last two decades.

Abortion pill manufacturer GenBioPro also filed a lawsuit against the FDA on Wednesday to prevent it from complying with court decisions requiring the agency to order mifepristone off the market.

The lawsuit, brought by several medical associations and doctors, has been closely watched since its inception, with nearly every state weighing in.

Plaintiffs argued that the FDA lacks authority to approve mifepristone and that the pill poses real health risks to women and girls. They cited a study showing that women who receive chemical abortions are 50% more likely than those who receive surgical abortions to visit the emergency room within thirty days.

In response to the Supreme Court’s stay, President Biden stated that mifepristone remains available and approved for safe and effective use while the legal battle continues. He also pledged to continue fighting politically-driven attacks on women’s health.

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