Supreme Court Rejects Bid to Restrict Abortion Pill

Mifepristone, sold under the brand name Mifeprex, at a family planning clinic in Rockville

The US Supreme Court on Thursday rejected a bid to restrict an abortion pill widely used in the United States to terminate pregnancies.

The court, in a unanimous opinion, said the anti-abortion groups and physicians challenging the medication, mifepristone, lacked the legal standing to bring the case.

Abortion rights are one of the key issues in the November election and the administration of Democratic President Joe Biden had urged the court to maintain access to the drug, which was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2000. His opponent Donald Trump leads a Republican Party broadly favoring blocks to abortion access.

The mifepristone case was the first significant abortion case heard by the conservative-dominated Supreme Court since it overturned the previously long-held constitutional right to abortion two years ago.

“We recognize that many citizens, including the plaintiff doctors here, have sincere concerns about and objections to others using mifepristone and obtaining abortions,” said Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who wrote the 9-0 opinion.

“But citizens and doctors do not have standing to sue simply because others are allowed to engage in certain activities,” Kavanaugh said. “The plaintiffs lack standing to challenge FDA’s actions.”

The conservative justice said the federal courts were “the wrong forum for addressing the plaintiffs’ concerns about FDA’s actions” and they could present their objections through regulatory procedures or through the “political and electoral processes.”

Abortion opponents have been seeking to restrict nationwide access to the pill, claiming it is unsafe and that anti-abortion doctors were being forced to violate their conscience by intervening on patients who suffered complications after using it.

A conservative US district court judge in Texas, who was appointed during Trump’s presidency, issued a ruling last year that would have banned mifepristone.

An appeals court overturned the outright ban because the statute of limitations on challenging the FDA’s approval had expired, but restricted access to the drug.

The appeals court reduced the period during which mifepristone can be used from 10 weeks of pregnancy to seven weeks, blocked it from being delivered by mail, and required the pill to be prescribed and administered by a doctor.

The Supreme Court ruling lifts those restrictions.

Medication abortion accounted for 63 percent of the abortions in the country last year, up from 53 percent in 2020, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

Some 20 states have banned or restricted abortion since the Supreme Court in June 2022 overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling that enshrined the constitutional right to abortion for half a century.

Polls show a majority of Americans support continued access to safe abortion, even as conservative groups push to limit the procedure or ban it outright.


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