US Supreme Court Asked to Review Abortion Pill Access Restriction

The US Supreme Court is being petitioned to overturn an appellate court's decision that restricts mail-order access to a drug used in the most common method of abortion in the United States.

This case marks the first significant abortion dispute to reach the Supreme Court after it overturned Roe v. Wade the previous year. The earlier ruling has resulted in abortion bans at various pregnancy stages in 15 states, with exceptions in some cases, and bans once cardiac activity can be detected, typically around six weeks, in two other states.

Danco Laboratories, the New York-based manufacturer of mifepristone, filed an appeal asserting that federal judges should not challenge the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) approval of the drug or its dispensing conditions. The Biden administration was also expected to submit an appeal.

A federal appeals court decision in August would revoke permission for mailing the drug and reduce the time frame for using mifepristone in pregnancy from the current 10 weeks to seven weeks.

Earlier, the Supreme Court intervened in April to ensure mifepristone's availability during ongoing legal challenges.

The Supreme Court is widely anticipated to accept this case for review and deliver the final verdict, likely in early summer 2024, amid presidential and congressional election campaigns.

In their request for the Supreme Court to reverse the fifth US Circuit Court of Appeals, Danco's lawyers stressed the immense significance of this case for women, healthcare providers, and states relying on the FDA's actions to guarantee safe and effective reproductive healthcare.

The appellate decision preserved the FDA's 23-year-old approval of mifepristone but would reverse regulatory changes made in 2016 and 2021 that eased certain administration requirements for the drug.

Women can use mifepristone along with a second drug, misoprostol, to terminate pregnancies within the first 10 weeks without invasive surgical procedures. These pills are employed in over half of all US abortions.

If mifepristone becomes inaccessible or difficult to obtain, healthcare providers have indicated they could switch to misoprostol, which is somewhat less effective at ending pregnancies.

The FDA has gradually relaxed the terms of mifepristone's use over the years, including permitting mail delivery in states that allow it and reducing the required dosage for pregnancy termination.


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