The Future of Abortion Access: Supreme Court Takes on Mifepristone Regulations

On Dec. 13th, the Supreme Court decided to take up the case, Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine v. FDA, regarding mifepristone, a widely used abortion pill, and its accessibility. The issue centers around a lower court decision challenging recent FDA changes allowing telemedicine appointments and mail prescriptions for the drug. The Supreme Court will hear the case this term, and a decision is expected by summer. 

Mifepristone, as described by the FDA, is a drug that blocks the hormone progesterone, which is needed for a pregnancy to continue. It is taken in conjunction with misoprostol in order to end a pregnancy up to ten weeks. The medication has been deemed safe by the FDA since 2000 and has since been safely used by more than 5 million people.  

The abortion pill dispute originated in Texas, where the U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk imposed a nationwide ban on mifepristone, arguing that the FDA had improperly approved it 23 years ago. However, another judge in Washington state supported the current FDA rules. While the case moved through lower courts, the Supreme Court temporarily upheld the existing system. 

The Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine, a pro-life group of medical professionals, is challenging the FDA due to potential harm to emergency room doctors, while the Biden administration contends there’s no evidence of such harm. The drug’s manufacturer, Danco, supports the government’s position. Danco argues that the anti abortion doctors do not have the authority to bring the case because they “do not prescribe or use the drug” and their only “real disagreement with the FDA is that they oppose all forms of abortion.”

In the coming months, the Supreme Court’s decision in the Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine v. FDA case will not only determine the fate of mifepristone’s accessibility, but also address broader questions about the authority of courts to challenge FDA decisions.

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