The Supreme Court will review the ability of American women to easily access a commonly used abortion pill, the court announced Wednesday.
Mifepristone has become central to the response by health care professionals and reproductive rights advocates to last year’s Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade.
The pill can be transported across state and national borders, allowing women to skirt efforts to ban or severely restrict abortion in some states.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved mifepristone more than two decades ago, and it is currently used in more than half of all pregnancy terminations in the United States, the New York Times reported.
Policies issued in recent years by the FDA have allowed the pills to be prescribed via telehealth, mailed to patients and handed out at pharmacies.
Before that, the pill had to be prescribed by a doctor and picked up in person. Patients also had to visit a doctor three times during the medication abortion process, the Times reported.
Anti-abortion rights activists originally sued to block FDA approval of mifepristone entirely, but in August the conservative U.S. Fifth District Court of Appeals overturned only the more recent policies expanding access.
The appeals court ruled that the FDA did not follow proper procedures when it loosened regulations for obtaining the pill, the Times reported.
The Biden administration and mifepristone manufacturer Danco Laboratories appealed the Fifth District’s decision to the Supreme Court, which has agreed to hear arguments regarding those policies, its order states.
The high court will not review the FDA’s original approval of the drug.
In its appeal, lawyers from the Justice Department said allowing the Fifth District decision to stand “would threaten to severely disrupt the pharmaceutical industry and prevent F.D.A. from fulfilling its statutory responsibilities according to its scientific judgment,” the Times reported.
In a brief, the conservative Christian legal advocacy group Alliance Defending Freedom called the appeals court’s ruling a “modest decision” that “merely restores the common-sense safeguards under which millions of women have taken chemical abortion drugs,” the Times said.
The National Library of Medicine has more about mifepristone.
SOURCES: New York Times
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