Supreme Court upholds access to widely used abortion pill

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Thursday rejected a bid to curb access to mifepristone, a key drug commonly used in abortions, reversing a lower court’s order that would have pulled the drug off the market.

The nation’s highest court unanimously rejected a lawsuit challenging the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of mifepristone and its subsequent loosening of regulations, including the 2021 decision to allow the drug to be prescribed without requiring an in-person doctor’s visit.

The court found that the FDA’s challengers lacked the standing to bring the case, as they “do not prescribe or use mifepristone” and instead “seek to challenge FDA’s regulation of others.”

“Given the broad and comprehensive conscience protections guaranteed by federal law, the plaintiffs have not shown—and cannot show—that FDA’s actions will cause them to suffer any conscience injury,” Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote in the court’s opinion.

New York Attorney General Letitia James, who led a group of 23 states and the District of Columbia in urging the Supreme Court to overturn the decision restricting mifepristone access, called Thursday’s ruling “a significant victory in protecting the reproductive rights of Americans and ensuring that science is the guiding light for medical decisions and rulemaking.”

“I am very proud of the work my office did, together with our coalition partners, to make sound, legal arguments to support the FDA and its commonsense, fact-based rules about how to access mifepristone.,” she said in a statement.

“While we may be celebrating today, we also know that anti-choice forces will not stop trying to eliminate bodily autonomy and the right to privacy for millions of Americans.”

Public health authorities have repeatedly found mifepristone to be safe and effective.

Since the FDA approved of its use 24 years ago, more than millions of women nationwide have used the drug. Medical groups have said that complications from its use are seen at a lower rate than those seen with routine medical procedures, like wisdom teeth removal and colonoscopies, The Associated Press reported. Mifepristone is also used for miscarriage management and is typically paired with another medication, misoprostol.

The challenge marked the latest abortion-related case to land before the Supreme Court following its decision to overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision in 2022. The decision had protected abortion nationwide for decades. Since then, several states have enacted restrictions or bans on abortion access.

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