The Supreme Court on Friday ruled in favor of the Biden administration, allowing full access to the abortion pill mifepristone to continue as a lawsuit works its way through the lower federal courts.
The decision is a victory for abortion rights supporters, but the Supreme Court could be asked to revisit the issue later this year.
At issue is whether the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) acted appropriately in approving the drug more than 20 years ago. The pro-life doctors and medical groups challenging the FDA allege the agency "chose politics over science" in approving the drug and acted unlawfully by removing safeguards around mifepristone, including permitting the pill to be delivered by mail.
The Biden administration and Danco Laboratories, the drug's manufacturer, argue that mifepristone has been repeatedly found to be safe and effective by FDA's expert review process. The drug, which is taken with misoprostol in a two-drug regimen to terminate early pregnancy, has been used by over 5 million women in the two decades since it was approved.
The case reached the Supreme Court after Trump-appointed U.S. District Judge Matthew J. Kacsmaryk issued a ruling siding with the pro-life groups and halting FDA approval for mifepristone. His order was partially overturned by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, but the appeals court preserved restrictions that made the drug available only to be dispensed up to seven weeks, not 10, and not by mail.
Meanwhile, a federal judge in Washington has ordered the FDA to preserve access to mifepristone under the current rules in response to a separate lawsuit brought by 17 Democratic-led states and the District of Columbia.
In a new development, the generic abortion pill maker GenBioPro Inc. filed a lawsuit against the FDA Wednesday to keep mifepristone available on the market amid the other ongoing legal challenges.
The Supreme Court's ruling is a victory for abortion rights supporters, but the court will likely be asked to revisit the issue later this year. The issue of abortion is highly controversial and will likely remain a topic of debate for years to come.