Supreme Court Unanimously Upholds Access to Popular Abortion Medication

In a landmark decision, the Supreme Court unanimously upheld access to mifepristone, a medication used in the majority of U.S. abortions last year. This ruling marked the court’s first abortion-related decision since the overturning of Roe v. Wade by conservative justices two years ago.

The justices determined that abortion opponents did not have the legal standing to challenge the FDA’s approval of mifepristone and the agency’s efforts to make it more readily available.

The case had raised concerns about potential restrictions on mifepristone access nationwide, even in states where abortion is legal.

Separately, the court is also evaluating another abortion case involving a federal law on emergency care at hospitals and its impact on state abortion bans in critical health-risk situations during pregnancy.

Over 6 million individuals have used mifepristone since 2000. The medication, which blocks progesterone and prepares the uterus for the contractions induced by misoprostol, is commonly used to terminate pregnancies up to 10 weeks gestation.

Healthcare providers expressed concerns about a decrease in mifepristone availability leading them to rely solely on misoprostol, a less effective alternative for ending pregnancies.

The Biden administration and drug manufacturers cautioned that siding with abortion opponents in this case could set a precedent that extends beyond abortion, potentially undermining the FDA’s drug approval process by allowing judicial interference in scientific decisions.

Opponents of abortion argued that the FDA’s decisions to relax mifepristone restrictions in 2016 and 2021 were unreasonable and posed risks to women’s health nationwide.

The legal battle over mifepristone began shortly after the Supreme Court’s Roe decision was overturned. Initially, a district judge in Texas ruled in favor of abortion opponents, but the appeals court later upheld the drug’s approval while reversing some of the 2016 and 2021 regulatory changes.

The Supreme Court temporarily blocked the appeals court’s modified ruling and ultimately decided to hear the case. Justices Alito and Thomas, who were involved in overturning Roe, favored implementing certain restrictions during the proceedings.

Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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