The high court has ruled: For the time being, women in early pregnancy will still have access to the abortion pill without having to first visit a doctor. The Supreme Court weighed in on the issue on a temporary basis Thursday night, following a federal district court judge's ruling allowing women up to 10 weeks pregnant to get the pill via mail or delivery service amid the coronavirus pandemic, CNN reports. The Trump administration wants the in-person visit requirement, an FDA rule for two decades now, reinstated. The Supreme Court declined to intervene, ordering the feds to make the case in more detail before the lower court, and USA Today notes that process could extend beyond Election Day.
The case will likely end up back before the high court eventually, and CNN notes the president's nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, will have been confirmed by then. The fact that SCOTUS took so long to issue a ruling (the case has been before the justices since before Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death) indicates a possible 4-4 split that took a while to resolve. "Here, for the first time, we have a case in which Justice Ginsburg's passing seems to have directly affected the outcome—and also one that, by the time it comes back, may rest on the tiebreaking vote of a Justice Barrett," says a law professor and CNN analyst. (Read more abortion pill stories.)