12.13.23 (PRESS RELEASE) — Today, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to take up a case that could ultimately eliminate access to mifepristone—one of two drugs used in medication abortion. The case was filed by an anti-abortion group seeking to undo FDA approval of the drug and remove it from the market nationwide. The high court will hear arguments on the case, likely in the spring. The case reaches the Supreme Court after an appellate court partially upheld a lower court ruling granting the anti-abortion group’s request, attempting to reinstate burdensome restrictions on mifepristone that make it much harder to access. That order is currently blocked and will remain blocked until the Supreme Court rules, likely in June 2024.
“The Supreme Court did the right thing by agreeing to review the erroneous ruling of the lower court that would drastically curtail access to medication abortion,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights. “Now the question is whether the Court will do the right thing and reject the radical arguments of the Plaintiffs in what should be a clear-cut case. The Court has never invalidated a long-standing FDA approval like they are being asked to do here. The stakes are enormous in post-Roe America. Even those living in states with strong protections for abortion rights could have their ability to access mifepristone severely restricted if the Court rules against the FDA. In the wake of the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade, abortion via medication that can be prescribed in a telehealth visit and delivered to the privacy of one’s home has been critical. Abortion pills have been used safely in the U.S. for more than 20 years, and they are more important than ever in this post-Roe landscape. That is precisely why the anti-abortion movement is attacking them.”
Medication abortion accounts for more than half (53%) of all abortions in the U.S. Mifepristone was approved by the FDA in 2000 and since that time, medication abortion has been used by nearly 5 million patients across the country. Numerous studies have repeatedly shown the safety and efficacy of mifepristone as part of the two-drug medication abortion regimen. One of the restrictions that the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals is attempting to reinstate would prevent access to medication abortion via telemedicine using mail-order pharmacies—a practice that has been proven to be safe and effective. If allowed to take effect, the Fifth Circuit’s order will make it even more difficult for patients to get abortion care across the country.
Key dates for Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine v. FDA
- November 18, 2022: Case filed by Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine
- March 15, 2022: U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk hears arguments over whether to block FDA approval of mifepristone.
- April 7, 2023 : Judge Kacsmaryk rules to block the FDA’s approval of mifepristone and remove the drug from the market nationwide. The FDA appeals the decision soon after to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
- April 12, 2023: In response to the FDA’s emergency request to block Jude Kacsmaryk’s order while the case proceeds, the Fifth Circuit rules to let much of the order take effect by reinstating burdensome restrictions on mifepristone from pre-2016 but keeping the FDA approval of the drug in place. The FDA quickly appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court.
- April 21, 2023: The U.S. Supreme Court grants a stay, blocking Judge Kacsmaryk’s order in full and allowing the appeal to proceed at the Fifth Circuit.
- May 17, 2023: The Fifth Circuit hears arguments over whether to reverse Judge Kacsmaryk’s order.
- August 16, 2023 – The Fifth Circuit issues a ruling similar to its April decision attempting to reinstate restrictions on mifepristone from pre-2016. Because of SCOTUS’ stay, the appellate court’s decision does not take effect.
- September 8, 2023: The FDA asks SCOTUS to take up the case.
- December 13, 2023: SCOTUS takes the case, granting the petitions for review from the Government and Danco, and denying the petition by the Plaintiffs.
People seeking abortion care can visit www.ineedana.com to find the nearest abortion provider.
If you are a U.S.-based abortion provider or supporter in need of legal assistance, you can contact the Abortion Defense Network (ADN). The ADN connects anyone working to provide or help patients access abortion care with attorneys for legal advice, representation, and funds. Visit abortiondefensenetwork.org for more information.
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