Supreme Court temporarily lifts restrictions on abortion pill as it considers case

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The Supreme Court on Friday placed a five-day suspension on all abortion pill restrictions ordered by lower courts while it considers Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine v. Food and Drug Administration, a high-stakes case impacting abortion pill access across the country.

A ruling issued by Justice Samuel Alito grants the Biden Department of Justice’s emergency request to block recent judicial rulings while the nation’s highest court considers the case.

Alito’s ruling lifts all restrictions placed by Texas federal judge Matthew Kacsmaryk of the 5th Circuit Appellate Court on the abortion drug mifepristone until midnight Wednesday, April 19.

Erin Hawley, senior counsel at Alliance Defending Freedom, the firm representing the pro-life groups in this case, said Alito’s ruling wasn’t unexpected.

“The entry of a brief administrative stay is standard operating procedure whenever the Supreme Court is asked to consider an emergency request like this one. It gives the court sufficient time to consider the parties’ arguments before ruling. We look forward to explaining why the FDA has not met its heavy burden to pause the parts of the district court’s decision that restore the critical safeguards for women and girls that were unlawfully removed by the FDA,” she said.

This Supreme Court’s decision means that for the time being mifepristone remains legal up to 10 weeks of pregnancy, and can be mailed and administered via telemedicine without an in-person doctor’s visit.

Mifepristone is the first drug used in what is commonly a two-step regimen for a chemical abortion. The pill works to kill an unborn baby by cutting off the nutrients necessary for it to continue developing.

Chemical abortions now account for over half of all U.S. abortions.

Last Friday’s ruling by the Texas judge to suspend the FDA’s approval of the abortion drug mifepristone was made on the grounds that approval was given “based on plainly unsound reasoning and studies that did not support its conclusions.”

On Thursday a three-judge panel from the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in Louisiana granted a partial stay of Kacsmaryk’s April 7 ruling while reinstating certain mifepristone restrictions lifted by the FDA after 2016.

The panel ruled that the drug will no longer be permitted to be distributed via mail, and in-person doctor visits to prescribe and dispense the drug would be required.

Additionally, the court reinstated a restriction limiting mifepristone’s use to the first seven weeks of pregnancy, instead of 10, and a follow-up doctor’s visit to check for complications is required after a chemical abortion.

This is a developing story.

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