Supreme Court allows abortion drug mifepristone to remain widely available in US

Opponents had wanted the Supreme Court to roll back changes made by the FDA that have made it easier to obtain the drug.
Abortion Pill
Posted at 9:09 AM, Jun 13, 2024

The Supreme Court is allowing abortion drug mifepristone to remain widely available in the U.S.

Opponents had wanted the Supreme Court to roll back changes made by the Food and Drug Administration that have made it easier to obtain the drug.

The case stemmed from a lawsuit filed by three doctors and a group called the Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine incorporated in Amarillo, Texas, in 2022. They argued that they, as medical professionals, could be forced to violate their religious beliefs by conducting surgery if a woman suffering a complication of medical abortion went to their emergency room.

But the Supreme Court said in its unanimous decision that the plaintiffs "lacked standing" to challenge the FDA's actions.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote the opinion for the court.

"We recognize that many citizens, including the plaintiff doctors here, have sincere concerns about and objections to others using mifepristone and obtaining abortions. But citizens and doctors do not have standing to sue simply because others are allowed to engage in certain activities — at least without the plaintiffs demonstrating how they would be injured by the government’s alleged underregulation of others," said the opinion.

"Citizens and doctors who object to what the law allows others to do may always take their concerns to the Executive and Legislative Branches and seek greater regulatory or legislative restrictions on certain activities," it said.

Danco, the maker of mifepristone, spoke out following the Supreme Court's decision.

"We are pleased with the Supreme Court’s decision in this incredibly important case. By rejecting the Fifth Circuit’s radical, unprecedented and unsupportable interpretation of who has standing to sue, the justices reaffirmed longstanding basic principles of administrative law. In doing so, they maintained the stability of the FDA drug approval process, which is based on the agency’s expertise and on which patients, healthcare providers and the US pharmaceutical industry rely," Danco said in a statement.

"Danco is proud to have led the way in obtaining FDA approval of this essential reproductive health option and of modifications to the conditions under which it can be used. We thank the Court for its careful analysis and remain committed to developing and bringing to market safe and effective products in this crucial area of public health," said the company.

President Joe Biden also spoke out following the opinion, noting challenges with women's reproductive health.

"Today’s decision does not change the fact that the fight for reproductive freedom continues. It does not change the fact that the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade two years ago, and women lost a fundamental freedom. It does not change the fact that the right for a woman to get the treatment she needs is imperiled if not impossible in many states," said President Biden.

He said while it does mean women can continue to access mifepristone, challenges remain.

"Let’s be clear: Attacks on medication abortion are part of Republican elected officials’ extreme and dangerous agenda to ban abortion nationwide. Since the overturning of Roe v. Wade, Republican elected officials have imposed extreme abortion bans in 21 states, some of which include zero exceptions for rape or incest," the president said. "Women are being turned away from emergency rooms, or forced to go to court to plead for care that their doctor recommended or to travel hundreds of miles for care. Doctors and nurses are being threatened with jail time, including life in prison, for providing the health care they have been trained to provide. And contraception and IVF are under attack."

"The stakes could not be higher for women across America," the president said, vowing to continue to fight for women's reproductive rights.

Haydee Morales, interim president, National Institute for Reproductive Health, echoed his sentiments, calling the case an "attack" with the goal of banning medication abortion.

"This case should never have made it to the Supreme Court in the first place," Morales said in a statement.

Mifepristone has been approved by the FDA for over 20 years.