Abortion — On Tuesday, an anti-abortion group petitioned the Supreme Court to maintain restrictions on the abortion medicine mifepristone in place while the pill’s legality is contested.
The limits were temporarily lifted by Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito on Friday at 11:59 p.m. Wednesday is the date.
The decision was made in response to an emergency request from the Justice Department and Danco Laboratories, the company in charge of mifepristone distribution.
Both the Justice Department and Danco urged that the Supreme Court expedite its review of the case and issue a decision before the summer holiday.
The Supreme Court, which has a conservative majority of 6-3, might rule on the matter.
The Comstock Act
The Alliance Defending Freedom group has asked the Supreme Court to review the Comstock Act of 1873 if the case is heard.
The Act effectively prohibits the mailing of mifepristone.
If the complaint is heard, the anti-abortion group will ask the court to look into whether the FDA authorized mifepristone legitimately in 2000.
Mifepristone is commonly used with another drug, misoprostol.
It is the most common method of ending a pregnancy in the United States, accounting for more than half of all abortions.
If lower court rulings against mifepristone are sustained, abortion access may be curtailed, perhaps affecting regions where abortion is still legal.
The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) is a conservative Christian legal organization founded in 1994 to advocate religious liberty, the sanctity of human life, and traditional marriage and family values.
In a number of high-profile cases in the United States and across the world, ADF has defended individuals who claim their religious liberty has been violated.
The organization provides legal assistance and consulting to individuals and groups, and has been involved in abortion, marriage equality, and religious freedom cases.
Many conservative and religious organizations have praised the group’s work, while critics accuse it of promoting discriminatory and exclusionary policies.
Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys accused the FDA of inappropriately reducing mifepristone restrictions over time.
The organization represents the Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine, a group of anti-abortion professionals.
Former FDA officials, the pharmaceutical industry, 23 US states, hundreds of members of Congress, and major medical organizations have all publicly denied the charges.
Following a thorough scientific review, the FDA determined that mifepristone was both effective and safe.
When Congress permitted it, the deduction to control drugs fell within its purview.
In a second brief, former FDA officials and major pharmaceutical businesses warned the Supreme Court that the lower court rulings would significantly limit the FDA’s regulatory power and impede research, development, and investment in novel treatments.
Suspension and blockade
Earlier this month, United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk decided that the FDA’s approval of mifepristone, as well as subsequent FDA initiatives to enhance access to the medication, were unlawful.
However, the US 5th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected portions of Kacsmaryk’s ruling while upholding the FDA authorization.
Instead, they reintroduced mifepristone usage and distribution restrictions.
The appeals suspended the mail distribution of mifepristone, forcing them to seek medical assistance.
It also increased the time frame for which women may use the medication, bringing it up to the seventh week of pregnancy.
In addition, the Circuit stopped the approval of GenBioPro’s generic mifepristone in 2019.
For the time being, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito rejected lower court rulings, allowing mifepristone to be administered.
Others, on the other hand, were dissatisfied with the decision.
Attorneys for the Alliance Defending Freedom, led by Erik Baptist, argued:
“Women will still have access to chemical abortion drugs under the same restrictions that existed for the first 16 years of mifepristone’s use.”
“The only effect of the lower court’s order is to restore a modicum of safety for the women and girls who use the drug, including supervision and oversight by a physician.”
Lower court rulings
The Justice Department and Danco argued in their emergency petitions to the Supreme Court that the lower court orders would effectively take mifepristone off the market for months, despite the fact that the FDA would simply amend the medication’s labeling to comply with the 5th Circuit’s decision.
According to US Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar, the case and lower court verdicts have been extremely disappointing.
It would also have far-reaching implications for the pharmaceutical industry, women’s health, and the FDA’s authority to approve drugs.
The government also argued that obeying the appeals court ruling would be in violation of a competing court order issued by Judge Thomas Rice of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Washington.
Rice has blocked the FDA from limiting the supply of mifepristone in 17 states, including Washington, DC.