July 14, 2024

The US Supreme Court has extended until Friday a temporary block on limits to access of a popular abortion pill.

A Texas judge suspended approval of abortion drug mifepristone on 7 April, questioning its safety.

Parts of that decision were upheld on appeal, prompting the Biden administration to make an emergency request to the Supreme Court.

It’s the most significant such case since the Supreme Court last year ended the nationwide right to abortion.

The pill – used in more than half of abortions in the US – was first approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) more than two decades ago. Here’s how we got here.

deferred to the agency when it comes to scientific and medical decision-making.

Legal experts warn the ruling opens the door for challenges to other approved medicines in the US and could also stifle development of future drugs.

I. Glenn Cohen, a Harvard Law School professor, told BBC News the pharmaceutical industry could be wary of more legal challenges, particularly to treatments that have become political flashpoints in the US, like transgender medical treatment and Covid-19 vaccines.

“It’s possible in any space, but … it’s going to trickle down in some ways and play out to be the worst for drugs that are needed sometimes by discrete and insular minorities,” Prof Cohen said.

Anti-abortion protestersIMAGE SOURCE,REUTERS

What happens next?

The Supreme Court is only deciding whether to put on hold the Texas ruling revoking access to mifepristone. At the moment, it is not debating the case itself. That is currently being decided on by the 5th Circuit court, although it eventually could make its way to America’s top court, too.

Earlier this week, the Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative Christian legal advocacy group that filed the initial lawsuit against the FDA, submitted a brief to the Supreme Court asking it to let the restrictions on mifepristone go into effect.

Their request has been supported by 147 Republican lawmakers, who submitted their own brief to the court, calling the removal of conditions on access to the drug “a dangerous game with the health and safety of women and girls.”

On the opposing side, a group of 253 Democratic lawmakers also weighed in, asking the Supreme Court to pause the original Texas ruling and leave mifepristone on the market as the case makes its way through the courts.

The Democrats argued the Texas ruling would restrict access to abortion nationwide.

Both briefs indicate that abortion remains a politicised debate in the US.

 

 

 

Credit: By Nadine Yousif & Robin Levinson-King
BBC News

 

 

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