Abortion — An anti-abortion organization petitioned the Supreme Court on Tuesday to keep limits on the abortion drug mifepristone in place while the pill’s legality is debated.
Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito temporarily relaxed the restrictions on Friday at 11:59 p.m. The date is Wednesday.
The decision was taken as a reaction to an emergency request from the Justice Department and Danco Laboratories, the corporation in charge of distributing mifepristone.
The Justice Department and Danco both requested the Supreme Court to expedite its assessment of the case and make a conclusion before the summer vacation.
The Supreme Court, which has a conservative 6-3 majority, may rule on the issue.
The Comstock Act
If the case is considered, the Alliance Defending Freedom group has petitioned the Supreme Court to examine the Comstock Act of 1873.
Mifepristone mailing is practically prohibited under the Act.
If the complaint is heard, the anti-abortion organization will urge the court to investigate whether the FDA lawfully allowed mifepristone in 2000.
Mifepristone is frequently used with another medication, misoprostol.
In the United States, it is the most prevalent technique of terminating a pregnancy, accounting for more than half of all abortions.
If lower court findings against mifepristone are upheld, abortion access might be restricted, perhaps affecting areas where abortion is still legal.
The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) is a conservative Christian legal group created in 1994 to promote religious liberty, human life sanctity, and traditional marriage and family values.
ADF has defended individuals who allege their religious liberty has been infringed in a number of high-profile cases in the United States and across the world.
The organization offers legal advice and representation to people and groups and has been involved in abortion, marriage equality, and religious freedom disputes.
Many conservative and religious organizations have lauded the group’s efforts, while detractors accuse it of supporting discriminatory and exclusionary policies.
Attorneys for Alliance Defending Freedom accused the FDA of improperly decreasing mifepristone limitations over time.
The Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine, a collection of anti-abortion physicians, is represented by the organization.
Former FDA officials, the pharmaceutical industry, 23 states in the United States, hundreds of members of Congress, and major medical organizations have all officially disputed the allegations.
The FDA decided that mifepristone was both efficacious and safe after a rigorous scientific assessment.
When Congress authorized it, the deduction for drug control fell under its purview.
Former FDA officials and large pharmaceutical companies cautioned the Supreme Court in a second brief that lower court verdicts will drastically limit the FDA’s regulatory authority and hamper research, development, and investment in innovative therapies.
Suspension and blockade
Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas ruled earlier this month that the FDA’s approval of mifepristone, as well as subsequent FDA attempts to improve access to the medicine, were illegal.
However, the US 5th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the FDA authorization while rejecting aspects of Kacsmaryk’s judgment.
Instead, they reinstated limitations on mifepristone use and distribution.
The appeals halted the mailing of mifepristone, requiring them to seek medical attention.
It also extended the period during which women may use the medicine, extending it until the seventh week of pregnancy.
Furthermore, in 2019, the Circuit halted the approval of GenBioPro’s generic mifepristone.
For the time being, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito has overruled lower court findings, authorizing the administration of mifepristone.
Others, though, were upset with the choice.
The Alliance Defending Freedom’s attorneys, under Erik Baptist’s leadership, 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
In their emergency petitions to the Supreme Court, the Justice Department and Danco contended that the lower court rulings would effectively pull mifepristone off the market for months, despite the fact that the FDA would merely change the medication’s labeling to conform with the 5th Circuit’s judgment.
The lawsuit and lower court judgments have been highly disappointing, according to US Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar.
It would also have far-reaching consequences for the pharmaceutical business, women’s health, and the FDA’s approval power.
The government also claimed that complying with the appeals court verdict would violate a competing court order issued by Judge Thomas Rice of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Washington.
Rice has prevented the FDA from limiting mifepristone supplies in 17 states, including Washington, DC.