Supreme Court to take up abortion pill case that could impact access nationwide

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(WASHINGTON) — The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday granted petitions from the Food and Drug Administration and Danco Labs to hear their appeal of a ruling that would reinstate restrictions on the abortion pill mifepristone and sharply roll back access nationwide.

The court will likely hear oral arguments next spring and issue a ruling by the end of June. A date has not yet been set.

The court’s decision to hear the case ensures abortion access and reproductive rights will be front and center well into the 2024 campaign.

Earlier this year, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld some, but not all, of Texas District Court Judge Matthew Kasmaryk’s controversial decision against the legality of mifepristone’s FDA approval and regulation.

The 5th Circuit ruled that the drug should be more regulated, with limits at seven weeks of gestation and requirements that the patient obtain the medication in person rather than by mail. Under current guidelines from the FDA, the drug can be used up to 10 weeks of gestation and sent to patients following a telehealth appointment.

Those court decisions remain on hold and access to the pill will be unchanged as this case is heard.

Mifepristone is one of the most common methods of abortion in the country, and became the target of multiple lawsuits after the Supreme Court overruled its decision in Roe v. Wade.

The White House, reacting to the Supreme Court’s announcement, said the Biden administration “will continue to stand by the FDA’s independent approval and regulation of mifepristone as safe and effective.”

“As the Department of Justice continues defending the FDA’s actions before the Supreme Court, President Biden and Vice President Harris remain firmly committed to defending women’s ability to access reproductive care,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement. “We continue to urge Congress to pass a law restoring the protections of Roe v. Wade — the only way to ensure the right to choose for women in every state.”

Abortion rights groups are closely monitoring this case. Had the Supreme Court decided not to take up the case, the lower court ruling would stand and new restrictions would be put on the drug.

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