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U.S. Supreme Court Maintains Access To Abortion Pill Mifepristone

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The U.S. Supreme Court rejected an attempt by anti-abortion groups and doctors to limit access to the abortion pill, marking a win for President Joe Biden’s administration in maintaining broad access to the drug.

Two years after ending the recognition of a constitutional right to abortion, the justices ruled 9-0 to overturn a lower court’s decision that had rolled back the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s 2016 and 2021 measures easing the prescription and distribution of mifepristone. Conservative Justice Brett Kavanaugh authored the decision.

Biden, a Democrat seeking re-election on November 5, criticized Republican officials behind such bans, asserting that they aim to outlaw abortion nationwide. He emphasized that Thursday’s ruling “does not change the fact that the fight for reproductive freedom continues.”

Kavanaugh noted that the plaintiffs, led by the Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine, do not prescribe or use mifepristone themselves but sought to make it more difficult for other doctors to prescribe and for women to obtain the drug.

Kavanaugh dismissed the plaintiffs’ argument that the FDA’s actions would force them to provide abortions, violating their consciences, stating that federal law already protects them.

A ruling in favor of the plaintiffs could have jeopardized the FDA’s regulatory authority over drug safety.

The plaintiffs targeted the FDA’s regulatory actions in 2016 and 2021, which allowed for medication abortions up to 10 weeks of pregnancy instead of seven, and for the mail delivery of the drug without an in-person visit to a clinician. They initially sought to reverse the FDA’s approval of mifepristone, but a lower court had already rejected that aspect.

Biden and other Democrats have made abortion rights a central issue against Republicans in the election.

Biden vowed to continue urging Congress to codify abortion rights into federal law, highlighting that some state abortion bans lack exceptions for rape or incest.

The Supreme Court is expected to rule by the end of June on the legality of Idaho’s strict Republican-backed abortion ban, which prohibits terminating a pregnancy even to protect the health of a pregnant woman in a medical emergency.

In the 14 states that have banned abortion with limited exceptions, medical providers cannot prescribe or dispense mifepristone under state law. Patients in these states may risk ordering the pills online from out-of-state providers or traveling out-of-state to legally obtain the medication.

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