While a lawsuit continues, the Supreme Court is evaluating whether women will face limits in acquiring a medication used in the most frequent abortion method in the US.
In a fast-moving Texas case, abortion opponents are seeking to overturn FDA approval of mifepristone.
The medicine was FDA-approved in 2000, and its use has been relaxed, including mail delivery in states that allow it.
The Biden administration and Danco Laboratories, the drug’s manufacturer in New York, seek the Supreme Court to overturn lower courts’ mifepristone use restrictions while the case is pending. They argue drug limits will cause havoc for women who desire the drug and physicians who supply it. The judges may order women to take a higher dose of the medicine than the FDA recommends.
Alliance Defending Freedom, representing anti-abortion doctors and medical groups in a drug challenge, is defending the verdicts and urging the Supreme Court to allow the limitations take effect now.
Less than a year after conservative justices overturned Roe v. Wade, more than a dozen states banned abortion.
Despite major changes in numerous states, abortion opponents focused on pharmaceutical abortions, which account for more than half of all abortions in the US.
Amarillo, Texas, abortion opponents sued in November. After a federal judge revoked FDA permission of mifepristone, one of two abortion medicines, on April 7, the case went to the Supreme Court.
A federal appeals court changed the order a week later to allow mifepristone with restrictions while the case is pending. The appeals court ruled that the medicine cannot be sent or given as a generic and that patients must make three in-person medical appointments.
In a court filing, Las Vegas-based GenBioPro Inc. noted that two-thirds of US mifepristone is generic.
The FDA has approved the medicine until 10 weeks of pregnancy since 2016, but the court stated it should only be approved through seven weeks.
A Washington federal judge ordered the FDA to keep mifepristone available under current restrictions in 17 Democratic-led states and the District of Columbia that filed a separate lawsuit.
The Biden administration claims the verdicts clash and put the FDA in an untenable position.
Last Friday, Justice Samuel Alito ordered the court to suspend the limits until Wednesday to consider the emergency appeal.
If the justices don’t block the order, the Democratic administration and Danco can ask the court to hear the mifepristone dispute, argue, and rule by early summer.
The court rarely does so before at least one appeals court has thoroughly explored the legal concerns.
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans set arguments for May 17 on an accelerated schedule.
In 2000, the FDA approved mifepristone for pharmaceutical abortions in the US. Since then, almost 5 million women have induced abortions with it and misoprostol.