US Supreme Court Weighs Restrictions On Abortion Pill

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court considered restrictions imposed by a lower court on the medicine most commonly used in the United States to terminate pregnancies.

Dozens of protesters gathered outside the courthouse in downtown Washington as the nine justices began hearing oral arguments in a case regarding access to the abortion medication mifepristone.

US Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar stated that there was no need to “unnecessarily restrict access” to the medicine, which was licensed by the Food and medicine Administration (FDA) in 2000.

“Some women could be forced to undergo more invasive surgical abortions, others might not be able to access the drug at all,” Prelogar said the news conference.

The conservative-dominated court abolished the constitutional right to abortion over two years ago, and anti-abortion groups are attempting to have mifepristone banned, alleging that despite its extensive track record, it is dangerous.

The dispute originates from an order last year by a conservative US District Court judge in Texas, appointed by Republican President Donald Trump, that would have barred mifepristone.

A conservative-dominated appeals court reversed the outright prohibition because the period of limitations for contesting the FDA’s approval had run out.

However, the court limited access to the medicine.

Danco Laboratories, the producer of mifepristone, and Democratic President Joe Biden’s administration filed an appeal with the Supreme Court challenging the lower court’s limits on mifepristone.

The nation’s top court, with a conservative 6-3 majority, halted the lower court’s findings, and the medicine remains on the market for the time being.

In 2000, the FDA allowed mifepristone for use up to seven weeks of pregnancy, and in 2016, the limits were relaxed even further, allowing it to be used up to 10 weeks.

It eliminated in-person distribution rules in 2021, during the Covid epidemic, allowing the drug to be dispensed by mail and prescribed remotely via telemedicine.

The appeals court judgment would reduce the legal limit for mifepristone use to seven weeks, prohibit mail-order delivery, and require a doctor to prescribe and administer the medication.

‘Decrease abortion access’ 

The newest judicial battle over reproductive rights occurs as abortion pill use rises in the United States.

Medication abortion accounted for 63% of all abortions in the US last year, up from 53% in 2020, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

The actual number is likely greater, according to the institute, because the data do not include self-managed pharmaceutical abortions outside of the health-care system or pills shipped to women in states where abortion is completely prohibited.

“Reinstating outdated and medically unnecessary restrictions on the provision of mifepristone would negatively impact people’s lives and decrease abortion access across the country,” said Amy Friedrich-Karnik, Guttmacher’s director of federal policy.

Since the Supreme Court overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade decision in June 2022, which enshrined the constitutional right to abortion for half a century, around 20 states have banned or restricted abortion.

Polls continually show that a large majority of Americans support ongoing access to safe abortion, despite conservative groups’ efforts to curtail — or outright outlaw the operation.

The Supreme Court is anticipated to rule on the abortion pill case by the end of June, four months before the presidential election in which abortion is practically guaranteed to be a prominent issue.

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