In a decision issued late Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court has opted to maintain widespread availability of the abortion pill mifepristone, commonly known as RU-486 or Mifeprex. This ruling comes as a critical case works its way through the courts. Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. were the lone dissenting voices against the ruling.
Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) Senior Counsel Erik Baptist released a statement addressing the ruling, saying, “As is common practice, the Supreme Court has decided to maintain the status quo that existed prior to our lawsuit while our challenge to the FDA’s illegal approval of chemical abortion drugs and its removal of critical safeguards for those drugs moves forward.” Baptist also clarified that the case would proceed on an expedited basis through lower courts.
Surprised that a supposed conservative court would rule in this way? Our nation is becoming one of heathens. Be ready for the second coming.
— Ken Kontroversial (@KDuffySr) April 22, 2023
The ADF represents the plaintiff in Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine v. U.S. Food and Drug Administration, a case focusing on the FDA’s alleged failure to study the safety of the abortion pill regimen, which the ADF claims “eliminated necessary safeguards for pregnant girls and women.” The FDA is also accused of disregarding evidence that chemical abortions lead to more complications than surgical procedures.
The case reached the emergency docket following contradicting rulings in Texas and Washington that caused confusion. The Texas ruling invalidated the FDA’s approval of the drug. At the same time, the Washington decision directed the FDA to keep it available. The case will now proceed back to the conservative 5th Circuit, where a three-judge panel will hold a hearing on May 17.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) stated in response to the ruling, “Today’s decision shows how dangerously misguided and abhorrent the ruling by the Texas District Court was. While this is a temporary victory, this is hardly the end of the fight to protect women’s health choices.” Schumer promised that Democrats would continue to fight and ultimately prevail.
While I’m disappointed in the Court’s decision, we will continue the fight as the case continues to hold the @US_FDA accountable for endangering moms & babies through chemical abortion drugs. #ProLife
— U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (@SenHydeSmith) April 21, 2023
On the other hand, Senate Pro-Life Caucus chair Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) expressed her disappointment with the Court’s decision, tweeting, “We will continue the fight as the case continues to hold the @US_FDA accountable for endangering moms & babies through chemical abortion drugs.”
Mifepristone has been approved by the FDA since 2000, and its use has expanded in recent years. Under President Biden, the FDA has made abortion pills more accessible through retail pharmacies and mail delivery. The current Supreme Court ruling signifies a victory for the Biden administration and supporters of abortion rights. However, it is anticipated that the Supreme Court will be asked to revisit this issue later in the year.
The case disputing the FDA’s approval of mifepristone is the first abortion-related controversy the Supreme Court has addressed since the overturning of Roe v. Wade in June 2022. The ADF alleges that the FDA “chose politics over science” when approving the drug and acted unlawfully by eliminating safeguards around mifepristone.
In defense of the drug’s approval, the Biden administration and Danco Laboratories, the drug’s manufacturer, argue that mifepristone has been deemed safe and effective through the FDA’s expert review process. Since its approval over two decades ago, the drug has been used by more than 5 million women to terminate pregnancies.
As the legal battle continues, the Supreme Court’s decision ensures that the abortion pill mifepristone remains widely available for now.