It Appears Doubtful That The Supreme Court Will Limit Access To Abortion Pills

( — Based on questioning during Tuesday’s oral arguments before the Supreme Court, it appeared unlikely that the justices would limit access to the abortion drug mifepristone, the Washington Post reported.

In April 2023, US District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk ruled that the FDA violated federal regulations by allowing accelerated approval for mifepristone.

The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed Kacsmaryk’s ruling but prevented the abortion pill from being prescribed via telemedicine or mail and shortened the time during pregnancy that the drug could be used from 10 weeks to only seven weeks.

The Biden administration appealed to the Supreme Court to reverse the ruling, arguing that the appellate court made access to the drug more difficult.

Throughout the two-hour hearing, most of the justices, both liberal and conservative, expressed doubt that the group of doctors challenging the FDA’s loosened regulations for mifepristone had suffered the direct harm necessary to give them legal grounds to bring the lawsuit.

Several justices, including Chief Justice Roberts, conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch, and liberal Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, seemed to favor a narrow ruling that would not address the underlying question of the FDA’s regulations but would allow women to obtain the drug by mail while lifting the seven-week limit back to ten.

The three conservative justices appointed by former President Trump appeared likely to side with the FDA. Both Justices Kavanaugh and Barrett sought assurances from Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar that doctors who object to abortion and are already shielded by federal law would not have to assist in a surgical abortion procedure if the patient suffers complications from mifepristone.

Prelogar faced the toughest questions from conservative Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas, who both appeared more sympathetic to the claims that the doctors had a right to sue.

Alito challenged the solicitor general, suggesting that her argument appeared to be that even if the FDA violated the law, nobody had the right to sue. Prelogar dismissed the suggestion, saying that the FDA took its responsibility for ensuring the safety of medications seriously.

A ruling in the case is not expected until late June or early July, when the Supreme Court term ends.

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