published : 2023-09-09

Biden Administration Urges Supreme Court to Review Major Abortion Pill Case

DOJ Lawyers Defend Mifepristone as the 'Best Method' for Ending Early Pregnancies

A woman holding a sign that reads 'Reproductive Rights Matter' during a protest outside the Supreme Court building. (Photo taken with Canon EOS 5D Mark IV)

The Biden administration has submitted a petition to the Supreme Court, asking it to review a lower court's decision that imposed restrictions on the distribution of the abortion pill.

In its petition, the Justice Department emphasized the importance of maintaining access to mifepristone, the abortion drug, stating that limiting access would harm women and healthcare providers across the nation.

The Biden administration's argument highlighted the FDA's previous determination that mifepristone is safe and effective, identifying it as the 'best method' for terminating early pregnancies.

Lawyers representing the Justice Department criticized the lower court's decision, arguing that it would force the FDA to reimpose unnecessary and unjustified restrictions on mifepristone's distribution.

Manufacturer Danco Laboratories also filed a separate petition seeking Supreme Court review of the lower court ruling, making it a critical case for reproductive rights.

Last month, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rolled back FDA deregulation of the abortion pill, ending its availability by mail and imposing new restrictions on its use.

Boxes of mifepristone neatly arranged on a shelf at a women's healthcare clinic. (Photo taken with Nikon D850)

These restrictions include requiring the drug to be administered in a physician's presence and limiting its use to pregnancies up to the seventh week, instead of the previous 10-week limit.

Judge Jennifer Walker Elrod, in the court's ruling, expressed concerns over the FDA's decision to loosen safety restrictions without adequately addressing potential risks for women using the drug.

Despite this setback, mifepristone remains available in states where abortion is legal under the FDA-approved conditions, thanks to a temporary injunction issued by the Supreme Court.

Mifepristone, also known as Mifeprex, is part of a two-drug regimen used to terminate early pregnancies by depriving the unborn baby of necessary hormones and inducing contractions.

Over 5 million women in the United States have utilized Mifeprex since its FDA approval in 2000, with a reported 97% effectiveness in terminating pregnancies.

However, the company behind the drug acknowledges that about 3% of women who take it may require surgical intervention for various reasons.

A close-up shot of a pharmacist handing over a prescription bottle of mifepristone to a patient. (Photo taken with Sony Alpha a7 III)

Danco Laboratories, defending the FDA's actions, asserts that safety and effectiveness data from clinical trials, as well as real-world use, support the expansion of mifepristone's availability.

The Texas lawsuit against the FDA's approval of mifepristone was filed by Alliance Defending Freedom, which celebrated the 5th Circuit's decision as a 'victory for women's health.'

The organization claims that the FDA unlawfully removed safeguards from the abortion drug regimen, and this case seeks to hold the FDA accountable for potential damage caused.

As the Supreme Court considers whether to take up this pivotal abortion pill case, its decision will have significant implications for reproductive rights and access to safe healthcare.