Abortion Rights Advocates Score a Supreme Court Win

Justices reject a legal challenge to the widely used abortion pill mifepristone
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 13, 2024 9:24 AM CDT
Supreme Court Won't Restrict Widely Used Abortion Pill
A patient prepares to take a mifepristone pill for a medication abortion during a visit to a clinic in Kansas City, Kansas.   (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)

The Supreme Court on Thursday unanimously preserved access to a medication that was used in nearly two-thirds of all abortions in the US last year—the court's first abortion decision since conservative justices overturned Roe v. Wade two years ago. The justices ruled that abortion opponents lacked the legal right to sue over the FDA's approval of the medication, mifepristone, and the FDA's subsequent actions to ease access to it, per the AP. The case had threatened to restrict access to mifepristone across the country, including in states where abortion remains legal.

More than 6 million people have used mifepristone since 2000. The drug blocks the hormone progesterone and primes the uterus to respond to the contraction-causing effect of a second drug, misoprostol. The two-drug regimen has been used to end a pregnancy through the first 10 weeks of gestation. Health care providers have said that if mifepristone is no longer available or is too hard to obtain, they would switch to using only misoprostol, which is somewhat less effective in ending pregnancies.

The abortion opponents argued in court papers that the FDA's decisions in 2016 and 2021 to relax restrictions on getting the drug were unreasonable and "jeopardize women's health across the nation." The high court is separately considering another abortion case, about whether a federal law on emergency treatment at hospitals overrides state abortion bans in rare emergency cases in which a pregnant patient's health is at serious risk. (More US Supreme Court stories.)

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