April 13, 2024

The US Supreme Court has preserved access to a commonly used abortion pill, ruling the drug can remain available while a legal case continues.

In a split decision, it also rejected restrictions on mifepristone implemented by a lower court, essentially maintaining the status quo.

The future of the drug was called into question after a Texas judge sought to invalidate its long-standing approval.

The case could have wide-ranging implications for abortion access.

It comes after the Supreme Court – which has a 6-3 conservative supermajority – overturned Roe v Wade in June last year, ending the nationwide guarantee to abortion and giving states the power to ban the procedure.

Students for Life called the Supreme Court’s decision a “tragedy”.

Pro-choice advocates “have weaponised and weakened the medical standards to favour abortion industry interests,” she said.

The latest ruling was welcomed by medical experts and organisations like the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Lawrence Gostin, a professor of global health law at Georgetown University said: “Imposing restrictions on access to mifepristone, a drug that’s been on the market for two decades, is a bridge too far even for a highly aggressive and conservative Supreme Court.”

He said restrictions on mifepristone would post “immeasurable” harms to the drug approval process in the US. “In some ways it would be open hunting season to all of the FDA’s drugs.”

Pro-choice politicians also applauded the top court’s decision, including Mr Biden who said he would continue to defend the FDA’s independence and fight political “attacks on women’s health”.

That fight is not over – oral arguments for the case will begin before the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in mid-May.

But for now, Friday’s ruling had the immediate effect of reassuring healthcare providers that access would continue, at least for the time being.

Kristyn Brandi, a gynecologist, or OB-GYN, and abortion provider in New Jersey, said she was relieved to learn about the ruling. Before it came, she and other providers were unsure of what services they would be able to offer patients attending clinics this weekend.

“Tomorrow morning at 7AM the patients will be able to access the care that they need,” she said. “That’s all that matters today.”

 

 

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