Supreme Court Rejects Lawsuit To Restrict Mifepristone Abortion Pill

On Thursday, the Supreme Court unanimously dismissed the Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine’s attempt to restrict access to mifepristone, a key drug used in medication abortion, ruling that the plaintiffs lacked standing to bring the case.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote the ruling in the case, FDA v. Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine, with Justice Clarence Thomas filing a concurring opinion.

“Several pro-life doctors and associations sued FDA, arguing that FDA’s actions violated the Administrative Procedure Act. But the plaintiffs do not prescribe or use mifepristone. And FDA is not requiring them to do or refrain from doing anything,” Kavanaugh wrote.

“Rather, the plaintiffs want FDA to make mifepristone more difficult for other doctors to prescribe and for pregnant women to obtain. Under Article III of the Constitution, a plaintiff’s desire to make a drug less available for others does not establish standing to sue. Nor do the plaintiff’s other standing theories suffice. Therefore, the plaintiffs lack standing to challenge FDA’s actions,” he added.

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In 2022, the Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine, a coalition of five anti-abortion medical groups, filed a case with U.S. District Court Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, a far-right Donald Trump appointee. Kacsmaryk ruled that the FDA unlawfully approved mifepristone, agreeing with the plaintiffs’ argument that the FDA overlooked safety concerns when it relaxed prescribing rules in 2016 and again in 2021 during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The anti-abortion group sought to ban the mailing of the drug and its distribution through large pharmacy chains, among other restrictions.

After the Supreme Court repealed Roe v. Wade in 2022, triggering a wave of abortion bans across the U.S., online pharmacies and mail-order abortion pills – whose popularity surged after regulations on mifepristone were relaxed during the pandemic – have kept abortion rates relatively unchanged since before the ruling.

Approved by the FDA in 2000, mifepristone has been used by nearly six million people in the U.S. as part of a two-drug regimen alongside misoprostol for abortion and miscarriage care. It also treats several other medical conditions, including Cushing syndrome, hyperglycemia and high blood glucose.

Mifepristone and misoprostol are over 95% effective and pose fewer risks than Tylenol. More than 100 studies and major medical groups have confirmed their safety and effectiveness, consistently advocating for their accessibility to patients nationwide.

Thursday’s ruling was unsurprising to most following the March oral arguments, where the majority of justices, including the court’s most conservative members, were highly skeptical of the plaintiff’s claim of real harm, which was the basis for their case.

While Democrats and abortion rights groups were relieved by the court’s decision, many warned against viewing it as a major victory, arguing that it merely maintains the status quo.

“Unfortunately, the attacks on abortion pills will not stop here – the anti-abortion movement sees how critical abortion pills are in this post-Roe world, and they are hell-bent on cutting off access,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO at the Center for Reproductive Rights, in a statement. “In the end, this ruling is not a ‘win’ for abortion – it just maintains the status quo, which is a dire public health crisis in which 14 states have criminalized abortion.”

President Joe Biden issued a similar statement in response to the ruling, reiterating his commitment to urging Congress to reinstate federal abortion protections.

“Today’s decision does not change the fact that the fight for reproduction freedom continues. It does not change the fact that the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade two years ago, and women lost 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,” Biden stated.

Riley Flynn

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