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The Supreme Court preserves wide access to the abortion pill

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By Andrew Chung and John Kruzel

WASHINGTON (RockedBuzz via Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday blocked new restrictions imposed by lower courts on a widely used abortion pill, a decision welcomed by President Joe Biden as his administration defends wide access to the drug in the United States. latest fierce legal battle over reproductive rights in the United States.

The judges, in a brief order, granted urgent requests from the Justice Department and pill maker Danco Laboratories to suspend an April 7 preliminary injunction issued by U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk in Texas. The judge’s order would have significantly limited the availability of mifepristone as litigation proceeds in a challenge by anti-abortion groups to federal regulatory approval of the pill.

“As a result of the Supreme Court stay, mifepristone remains available and approved for safe and effective use as we continue this fight in the courts,” Biden said in a statement released by the White House.

“The stakes couldn’t be higher for women across America. I will continue to fight political attacks on women’s health,” Biden added.

Conservative judges Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito publicly disagreed with the decision. Alito, in a brief opinion, wrote that the administration and Danco did not demonstrate that they could suffer “irreparable damage”.

Biden’s administration is trying to defend mifepristone in the face of growing abortion bans and restrictions enacted by Republican-led states since the Supreme Court in June 2022 struck down the landmark Roe v. decision. Wade’s 1973 legalization of the procedure nationwide. Alito wrote that sentence.

The current case now returns to the New Orleans-based US Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, which is expected to hear arguments on May 17.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the US agency that approves the safety of food, drugs and medical devices, approved mifepristone in 2000. a dangerous drug.

Mifepristone is taken with another drug called misoprostol to perform medical abortion, which accounts for more than half of all abortions in the United States. The drug has other uses including the management of miscarriages.

Erik Baptist, a lawyer with the conservative religious rights group Alliance Defending Freedom which represents challengers to the Pill, said: “Our case seeking to put women’s health above politics continues on an expedited basis in the lower courts.” .

The case could undermine federal drug safety regulators.

“I continue to support the evidence-based approval of mifepristone by the FDA, and my administration will continue to defend the independent, expert authority of the FDA to review, approve and regulate a broad range of prescription drugs,” he said. Biden.

A Danco attorney, Jessica Ellsworth, said the Supreme Court’s decision “preserves crucial access to a drug millions of patients rely on” after lower courts caused “widespread chaos.”

On April 12, the 5th Circuit refused to block the curbs ordered by Kacsmaryk, but blocked a portion of the judge’s order that would have suspended FDA approval for mifepristone and effectively pulled it from the market.

The Supreme Court acted just hours before a self-imposed deadline of 11:59 p.m. EDT on Friday (0359 GMT on Saturday) before restrictions on Kacsmaryk’s mifepristone took effect. Alito, who handles emergency matters arising from a group of states including Texas, last week issued a temporary stay on Kacsmaryk’s injunction until Wednesday and then extended it by two more days.

A former Christian legal activist appointed to the bench by former President Donald Trump, Kacsmaryk had a long history of opposing abortion before the US Senate confirmed him in 2019 to a life position as a federal judge.


Anti-abortion groups led by the newly formed Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine and four anti-abortion doctors sued the FDA in November.

The FDA has called mifepristone safe and effective, as proven by decades of use by millions of Americans, with adverse effects being extremely rare.

Abortion rights groups praised the Supreme Court’s decision on Friday but noted that the case was ongoing.

“We’re not out of the woods yet,” said Center for Reproductive Rights president Nancy Northup.

The restrictions, had they taken effect, would have reversed actions by the FDA in recent years to make mifepristone easier to access. Those actions include giving it mail-order approval in 2021 and approving its use up to 10 weeks of pregnancy instead of seven weeks in 2016, reducing the required dosage, and reducing the number of in-person doctor visits from three to a.

Current drug labels for mifepristone would need to be adjusted to account for reinstated limits on its use in what could have been a months-long process, the Justice Department and Danco had said.

In his dissent, Alito objected to that possibility, saying it would not occur “unless the FDA elects to use its enforcement discretion to stop Danco, and the plaintiffs’ documents provide no reason to believe that the FDA would have made that choice.”

The restrictions would also have suspended approval of the generic version of the pill made by GenBioPro Inc.

Since last year’s Supreme Court decision, 12 US states have implemented outright bans, while several others ban abortions after a certain period of pregnancy. The latest Republican-led move has come in Florida, where Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law a law on April 13 banning most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy.

(Reporting by Andrew Chung in New York and John Kruzel in Washington; Additional reporting by Kanishka Singh and Sharon Bernstein; Editing by Will Dunham)

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