The head of the U.S. Catholic bishops’ pro-life committee on Thursday expressed disappointment in the Supreme Court ruling that allowed the abortion pill to continue to be available, citing the health risks involved for women as well as concern for the life of the unborn. 

The high court’s unanimous decision on Thursday found that the plaintiffs did not have legal standing to sue the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which had issued the regulations that made the abortion pill widely available.

“We know it was a procedural ruling, and we did not speak to the ultimate legality of the abortion pill, but it’s still very disappointing because now the abortion pill remains very available,” Bishop Michael Burbidge of the Diocese of Arlington, Virginia, told CNA.

As chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities, Burbidge had issued a call for Catholics to pray for the nation’s highest court to side with the pro-life medical groups challenging the FDA’s regulation.

The FDA allows the abortion drug mifepristone to be administered to chemically abort a child up to 10 weeks into a mother’s pregnancy. 

The lawsuit also challenged the FDA’s deregulation of the drug, which allowed it to be prescribed without an in-person doctor’s visit and to be dispensed through the mail. 

“The sadness of a woman just being alone, unaccompanied — I don’t think people are aware of the harmful effects. It’s because we love women that we’re concerned that this pill remains so accessible,” Burbidge said from the Omni Louisville Hotel, where the USCCB’s spring meeting is being held.

A study published by the U.S. bishops cites safety concerns with  the abortion pill, including blood loss, infections, and even death. The study notes that the rate of adverse effects from chemical abortions is more than 5%, which is four times higher than with first-trimester surgical abortions. 

The bishops will continue to focus their efforts on helping women in need and educating people about the safety concerns of the abortion pill, he said, adding that women would not choose to have an abortion if they had the support they need.

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“We’re going to surround them, hopefully, accompany them, love them, provide for them in every way possible,” he said, adding that the bishops’ Walking with Moms in Need program has expanded options for pregnant women facing difficult situations.

The bishop said he and his fellow bishops have not given up the legal fight against the abortion pill.

“We’re just going to certainly look at other ways, other means of making sure that we continue to raise this as an issue and to challenge the legality and the safety of this abortion pill,” Burbidge said. 

“They said the pro-life doctors did not have standing to bring the lawsuit. Well, we’re going to continue to look at ways where we challenge this ruling,” he indicated.