Supreme Court Rules On Controversial Abortion Pill

Photo by Adam Szuscik on Unsplash

The Supreme Court temporarily halted a federal court ruling that significantly limits the use of the abortion pill Mifepristone.

Justice Samuel Alito’s brief order on the court’s urgent “shadow docket” will keep the status quo in place until at least Wednesday at midnight, when the full court will consider the administration’s emergency delay request.

After the U.S.’s Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals turned back the clock to 2016 late on Wednesday by imposing new restrictions on access to Abortion medication, the Department of Justice and the maker of the brand-name version of the pill asked the court to temporarily allow full access to the drug or to quickly schedule briefings and oral arguments to review the case before SCOTUS’s term ends this summer.

On Wednesday (April 12), an appeals court ruled 2-1 that Mifepristone can remain on the market while the federal government’s appeal of Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk’s ruling in the Northern District of Texas moves forward, scheduling an oral hearing for May 17.

Last week, Kacsmaryk suspended the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval of the 23-year-old Mifepristone.

The appeals court stayed that part of its decision but upheld another part of the ruling that blocked the FDA’s efforts since 2016 to make Mifepristone easier to use.

These changes include extending the pregnancy period for mifepristone users to 10 weeks of pregnancy, sending the drug to patients, allowing non-physicians to prescribe the drug, and approving a generic version.

Without the Supreme Court’s intervention, the changes would have gone into effect at 1 a.m. on Saturday (April 15).