Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Supreme Court reserves the use of the abortion pill for now


The justices approved emergency requests from the Biden administration and New York-based Danko Laboratories, maker of the drug mifepristone. They are appealing against a lower court’s decision that would withdraw the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of mifepristone.

This drug has been approved for use in the US since 2000 and more than 5 million people have used it. Mifepristone is used in combination with another drug, misoprostol, in more than half of abortions in the US.

The court’s Friday action will almost certainly leave access to mifepristone unchanged for at least the next year as appeals go on, including a possible appeal to the High Court.

Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas, authors of last year’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, voted to allow Sanctions to take effect. No other judge commented.

President Joe Biden praised the high court for keeping mifepristone available while the court battle continues.

“The stakes couldn’t be higher for women across America. I will continue to fight against the politically driven attacks on women’s health. But let’s be clear – the American people must continue to use their vote as their voice.” , and must elect a Congress that will pass legislation restoring the protections of Roe v. Wade,” Biden said in a statement.

The judges weighed arguments that allowing the restrictions contained in the lower court rulings to take effect would seriously impede the availability of mifepristone.

The Supreme Court initially said it would decide by Wednesday whether the restrictions could take effect while the case continued. The one-sentence order signed by Alito on Wednesday gave the justices two additional days without explanation.

Challenge to mifepristone brought by foes of abortion is first abortion Since then the dispute has reached the country’s highest court. Conservative majority overturns Roe v. Wade 10 months ago and effectively allowed more than a dozen states to ban abortion outright.

In his majority opinion last June, Alito said one reason to overturn Roe was to remove the federal courts from the abortion fight. “It is time to follow the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the elected representatives of the people,” he wrote.

But even with his court victory, abortion opponents returned to federal court with a new target: medication abortions, which account for more than half of all abortions in the United States.

Women wishing to end their pregnancy in the first 10 weeks without a more invasive surgical abortion can take mifepristone along with misoprostol. The FDA has eased conditions for mifepristone’s use over the years, including allowing it to be shipped through the mail in states that allow access.

Abortion opponents filed a lawsuit in Texas in November, saying the FDA’s original approval of mifepristone 23 years ago and subsequent changes were flawed.

He won a ruling on April 7. US District Judge Matthew Kaczmarik, former President Donald Trump’s appointee, revoking FDA approval of mifepristone. The judge gave the Biden administration and Danko Laboratories one week to appeal and put on hold his ruling.

In response to an expedited appeal, two more Trump appointees to the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals said For now, the original FDA approval remains valid, But Judges Andrew Oldham and Kurt Engelhardt said most of the rest of Kaczmarik’s ruling could take effect while the case moves through the federal courts.

Their decision will effectively end changes made by the FDA starting in 2016, including expanding seven to 10 weeks of pregnancy, when mifepristone can be used safely. The court also said that the drug cannot be mailed or dispensed as a generic and patients who want it need to make three personal appointments with a doctor. Women may also need to take higher dosages of the drug than is necessary according to the FDA.

Administration and Danko has said that chaos would ensue if those restrictions were implemented while the case progressed. Potentially adding to the confusion, a federal judge in Washington has ordered the FDA to preserve access to mifepristone under existing rules in 17 Democratic-led states and the District of Columbia, which filed a separate lawsuit.

The Biden administration has said the rules conflict and create an untenable position for the FDA.

And a new legal wrinkle threatens to complicate things even more. GenBioPro, which makes a generic version of mifepristone, filed a lawsuit on Wednesday to prevent the FDA from removing its drug from the market unless the Supreme Court intervenes.

The Supreme Court was being asked to stay the lower court’s decisions only through the end of the legal case.

The New Orleans-based 5th Circuit has already ordered an expedited schedule for hearing the case, with arguments set for May 17. The court did not give any timetable for the verdict.

Any appeal to the Supreme Court will follow within three months of a decision, but there is no time limit for justices to review the matter.