The Supreme Court on Friday decided to stay a lower court ruling that imposed a significant ban on the abortion drug mifepristone.
The decision came in the most important abortion rights case to make its way through the courts Roe v Wade Turned around last year. More than half of abortions in the US are accomplished using the pill.
The case was brought by a conservative Christian legal group, which argued that the Federal Drug Administration improperly approved mifepristone more than 23 years ago.
The Biden administration vigorously defended the FDA against the allegation, stressing its own rigorous safety review of the drug and the potential for regulatory chaos if plaintiffs and judges not versed in scientific and medical arguments begin to undermine the agency’s decision-making. Are.
The case has moved quickly through the courts in recent weeks, as conflicting rulings have called the future of the drug into question.
In early April, Matthew Kaczmarik, a federal judge in Texas, ruled for the first time in a lawsuit brought by a coalition of anti-abortion groups that completely suspended the FDA’s 23-year-old authorization of mifepristone, writing that The agency was found to have improperly approved the drug. Following a challenge by the Biden administration to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, a divided three-judge panel said the drug could remain approved but remain banned, limiting its use to the current 10-week limit. Instead it has been limited to seven weeks of pregnancy. , and banning the delivery of the pill by mail.
The Biden administration asked the Supreme Court to intervene before the sanctions could take effect. Justice Samuel Alito twice stayed the lower court’s decision, keeping access to mifepristone unchanged during the court’s deliberations.
Complicating matters, another federal judge issued a decision directly contradicting Kacsmaryk’s, ordering the FDA to refrain from making any changes to the availability of mifepristone in 18 jurisdictions.
That judge — Judge Thomas O’Rice in Washington — reaffirmed that order after the Fifth Circuit’s decision.
Both the Biden administration and drug companies have warned of regulatory chaos around drug approval should the Supreme Court allow restrictions on mifepristone to go into effect.
President Biden said in a statement, “If this decision is upheld, there will be virtually no prescription, approved by the FDA, that will be safe from these types of political, ideological attacks.” written statement After the decision of Kacsmaryk in early April.
The US Vice President, Kamala Harris, echoed this point in a statement in response to the appellate decision: “If this decision stands, any drug – from chemotherapy drugs to asthma drugs, to blood pressure pills, to insulin – Will not be safe from. attacks.