Supreme Court Keeps Mifepristone Available

Thomas, Alito dissent on blocking ruling against abortion pill during appeal
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 21, 2023 12:05 PM CDT
Updated Apr 21, 2023 5:58 PM CDT
Supreme Court Set to Rule on Abortion Pill
Boxes of the drug mifepristone sit on a shelf at the West Alabama Women's Center in Tuscaloosa, Ala., on March 16, 2022.   (AP Photo/Allen G. Breed, File)
UPDATE Apr 21, 2023 5:58 PM CDT

The Supreme Court on Friday preserved for now women's access to a drug used in the most common method of abortion, rejecting lower-court restrictions while the legal battle continues. The justices granted emergency requests from the Biden administration and Danco Laboratories, maker of mifepristone, the AP reports. They are appealing a lower court ruling that would roll back Food and Drug Administration approval of mifepristone. In the only dissents noted, Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito said they would not have granted the request for a stay of the lower court decision, per the Washington Post.

Apr 21, 2023 12:05 PM CDT

The Supreme Court is expected to issue a decision before midnight Friday on the abortion pill mifepristone, one that will determine whether access to a drug used in more than half of abortions is limited beginning as soon as Saturday. The Supreme Court had been expected to decide by Wednesday whether the restrictions could kick in while the case against the lower-court rulings plays out, but Justice Samuel Alito instead issued a two-day extension on Wednesday, bumping the decision to today. Steve Vladeck of the University of Texas School of Law says there are four ways the decision could go, the Guardian reports. "1) Grant stay pending appeal; 2) Deny stay pending appeal; 3) Weird mixed ruling; or 4) No ruling," Vladeck tweeted, noting that 2, 3, and 4 will result in "big changes starting Saturday."

After a federal judge in Texas decided earlier this month that the Food and Drug Administration had improperly approved the drug in 2000, a 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals panel ruled that the drug could remain available under the conditions that were in place until changes were made in 2016, meaning it could no longer be mailed and it could only be prescribed through week seven of pregnancy, not week 10, the AP reports. The Biden administration asked the Supreme Court to stay the rulings while the appeals process is underway.

story continues below

The Washington Post notes that today's ruling will be the first major abortion decision from the top court since it overturned Roe v. Wade last year—a decision that made access to mifepristone more important. The fact that the court extended its self-imposed deadline by two days "suggests that there may be disagreement among the justices," the New York Times reports. The Times predicts that the court might take the rare step of "leapfrogging" lower courts and hearing the case itself without delay. (More mifepristone stories.)

Get breaking news in your inbox.
What you need to know, as soon as we know it.
Sign up
Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.