20 April 2023, The Tablet

Supreme Court extends temporary ruling lifting restrictions on abortion pill

by Peter Pinedo, CNA

Supreme Court extends temporary ruling lifting restrictions on abortion pill

Supreme Court Associate Justice Samuel Alito.
Jason O. Watson (editorial) / Alamy

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito issued a ruling Wednesday extending the court’s temporary pause on all restrictions on the abortion pill mifepristone.

The extended pause will last for two more days, expiring tomorrow night in the U.S.

The court’s action is the latest development in Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine v. U.S. Food and Drug Administration, a high-stakes case impacting abortion pill access across the country.

A Friday ruling also issued by Alito granted the Biden Department of Justice’s emergency request to block restrictions on mifepristone made by lower court rulings while the nation’s highest court considers the case.

Alito’s extension means that for the time being mifepristone continues to remain legal and approved for use up to 10 weeks of pregnancy. It can be mailed and administered via telemedicine without an in-person doctor’s visit.

Mifepristone is the first drug used in what is commonly a two-step regimen for a chemical abortion. The pill works to kill an unborn baby by cutting off the nutrients necessary for it to continue developing.

Chemical abortions now account for over half of all U.S. abortions.

Federal Texas judge Matthew Kacsmaryk on 7 April issued a controversial ruling suspending the FDA’s approval of the abortion drug mifepristone on the grounds that approval was given “based on plainly unsound reasoning and studies that did not support its conclusions”.

On the following Thursday a three-judge panel from the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in Louisiana granted a partial stay of Kacsmaryk’s ruling while reinstating certain mifepristone restrictions lifted by the FDA after 2016.

The panel ruled that the drug will no longer be permitted to be distributed via mail and in-person doctor visits to prescribe and dispense the drug would be required.

Additionally, the court reinstated a restriction limiting mifepristone’s use to the first seven weeks of pregnancy, instead of 10, as well as requiring a follow-up doctor’s visit to check for complications after a chemical abortion.

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