Abortion pill still under legal threat despite US Supreme Court ruling

June 14, 2024 1:22 pm

[Source: Reuters]

The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on Thursday keeping the abortion drug mifepristone on the market with no new restrictions ends one chapter of the legal fight over the drug, but efforts by abortion opponents to restrict its use may not be over.

In rejecting a lawsuit by anti-abortion medical groups and doctors, the Supreme Court did not rule on their claim that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) acted improperly when it eased restrictions on mifepristone, including allowing it to be prescribed by telemedicine and dispensed by mail. Instead, the court found that they had not shown that they had suffered the kind of harm that would allow them to bring a lawsuit.

The plaintiffs had argued that anti-abortion doctors were harmed by the pill’s availability because they might be forced to violate their conscience by treating patients who developed complications after taking it. But the Supreme Court decided they had not offered any evidence that any doctor had actually faced that situation or was likely to in the future.

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Normally, that would be the end of the case. Last November, however, U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk in Amarillo, Texas, where the lawsuit was originally filed, allowed three Republican-led states that ban abortion to join the case as plaintiffs.

Those states – Idaho, Missouri and Kansas – had asked to join the Supreme Court appeal, but the justices refused, leaving their claims pending in Kacsmaryk’s lower court.

Now, they can try to go forward on their own. Abortion rights groups, including Planned Parenthood and the Center for Reproductive Rights, as well as abortion opponents, including Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, said the fight is not over and cited the pending claims by the states.