Mifepristone Access Granted by Supreme Court

On April 21, the Supreme Court decided access to the abortion pill, mifepristone, should remain available while litigation continues in a lower court.

The Court’s decision was the result of an emergency request by the Department of Justice (DOJ) to block lower court rulings. These rulings in lower courts would heavily limit access to the medication, even in states where abortion is legal.

The case will now be heard in the New Orleans-based U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. This appeals court has oral arguments scheduled for May 17 at 1 p.m. (CST), according to the Associated Press (AP).

“As a result of the Supreme Court’s stay, mifepristone remains available and approved for safe and effective use while we continue this fight in the courts,” President Biden said in a statement issued by the White House. “I continue to stand by the FDA’s evidence-based approval of mifepristone.”

According to AP News, mifepristone has been approved for use in the U.S. since 2000 and more than 5 million people have used the drug. It is used in combination with another drug, misoprostol, in more than half of abortions across the country.

The challenge of mifepristone is the first abortion controversy to reach the highest court since its conservative majority overturned Roe v. Wade 10 months ago. More than 5.6 million women in the U.S. used the drug as of June 2022, according to the FDA.

Even with their court victory, abortion opponents returned to federal court with the controversy of medication abortions, which make up more than half of all abortions in the U.S.

“I’m glad the Supreme Court decided in favor of basic human rights for women and to continue to allow women’s access to this pill,” said SHU freshman Julianna Sannino. “If they were to ban access to the pill, they would also be banning a woman’s right to her own body.”

The latest issue over abortion began on April 7 in Texas, when U.S. District Judge, Matthew Kacsmaryk, an anti-abortion activist, imposed a nationwide ban on mifepristone, stating that the FDA improperly approved the drug 23 years ago. That same day, U.S. District Judge Thomas O. Rice in Washington issued an opposing ruling, declaring that the current FDA rules should remain in place, according to NPR.

“There is so much in between ‘my body, my choice’ and ‘abortion is murder’ and it bothers me that people don’t talk about all the extremes in between, which is what makes this issue difficult to resolve,” said Christel Manning, a gender, sexuality, and religion professor at Sacred Heart University. “Compromise on this issue is possible and compromise doesn’t mean society is anti-women.”

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