Crime & Justice

US Supreme Court puts hold on ruling limiting access to abortion pill

Washington, Apr 14 (EFE).- The United States Supreme Court intervened Friday to prevent restrictions on sale of the abortion pill mifepristone from taking effect this weekend.

Justice Samuel Alito imposed a five-day hold on a federal appellate court ruling that would have significantly restricted access to the drug starting at 12:01 am Saturday.

President Joe Biden’s administration asked the high court to intervene after the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, based in New Orleans, upheld parts of a decision by a district judge in Texas revoking the approval of mifepristone by the Food and Drug Administration in 2000.

The parties will have until 12:00 pm Tuesday to submit briefs to the Supreme Court on the underlying issues in the case.

The full nine-member court will decide Wednesday whether to extend the hold on the district and appellate court decisions.

Last Friday, Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, who presides over the US district court in Amarillo, Texas, ruled that the FDA violated its own rules when it certified mifepristone as safe and efficacious.

Kacsmaryk suspended his decision for seven days to allow Biden’s Department of Justice to file an appeal with the 5th Circuit.

The appellate judges struck down part of the district court ruling, but let stand elements that would hinder access to mifepristone.

The 5th Circuit barred use of mifepristone after the seventh week of pregnancy – the current limit is 10 weeks – and prohibited distribution of the drug via the mail.

“If allowed to take effect, the lower courts’ orders would thwart FDA’s scientific judgment and undermine widespread reliance in a healthcare system that assumes the availability of mifepristone as an alternative to more burdensome and invasive surgical abortions,” US Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar said in her motion asking the Supreme Court to act.

Since last summer, when the Supreme Court overturned the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that made abortion legal nationwide, the use of medications to terminate pregnancies has increased.

The Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive rights NGO, estimates that medications were used in 54 percent of all abortions in the US in 2022.

A dozen of the 50 US states have banned abortion entirely, while others have imposed sharp restrictions on the procedure.

On Thursday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law a bill barring termination of a pregnancy after six weeks. EFE


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