Supreme Court unanimously rejects bid to restrict access to abortion pill mifepristone

United States Supreme Court Building

The Supreme Court on Thursday unanimously rejected a bid to restrict access to the abortion pill mifepristone, with the commonly used drug to remain widely available. Per CNN, medication abortion accounts for nearly two-thirds of all US abortions, according to some estimates. The FDA approved mifepristone in 2000 as part of a two-drug regimen to end a pregnancy and it has been shown to be safe and effective. The pill is also often prescribed for miscarriage treatment.

The high court ruled that the plaintiffs, the Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine, lacked standing to challenge the Food and Drug Administration’s mifepristone approval actions, adding that they failed to prove they suffered any harm from the FDA’s mifepristone policies and so had no right to sue in federal court to block access to the drug. The Supreme Court opinion said: “given the broad and comprehensive conscience protections guaranteed by federal law, the plaintiffs have not shown-and cannot show-that FDA’s actions will cause them to suffer any conscience injury.”

Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote in the court’s opinion: “Here, the plaintiff doctors and medical associations are unregulated parties who seek to challenge FDA’s regulation of others. Specifically, FDA’s regulations apply to doctors prescribing mifepristone and to pregnant women taking mifepristone. But the plaintiff doctors and medical associations do not prescribe or use mifepristone. And FDA has not required the plaintiffs to do anything or to refrain from doing anything.”  Kavanaugh added that the plaintiffs’ claim they were seeking to make mifepristone harder for people to because “they are pro-life, oppose elective abortion, and have sincere legal, moral, ideological, and policy objections to mifepristone being prescribed and used by others” isn’t enough for legal standing to sue in federal court.

The court concluded that, “the plaintiffs have failed to demonstrate that FDA’s relaxed regulatory requirements likely would cause them to suffer an injury in fact. For that reason, the federal courts are the wrong forum for addressing the plaintiffs’ concerns about FDA’s actions.”

President Joe Biden said in a statement that while the ruling means the pill can remain easily accessible, “the fight for reproductive freedom continues … it does not change the fact that the right for a woman to get the treatment she needs is imperiled if not impossible in many states.” 

Editorial credit: Traci L. Clever /

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