The U.S. Supreme Court agreed Wednesday to hear a Texas case over the legality of the commonly used abortion medication mifepristone, the most prominent abortion-related case since Roe v. Wade was overturned last year.
The Biden administration has asked the nation’s highest court to review an appeals court ruling that would cut off access to the drug through the mail, plus other restrictions. Here’s what legal experts make of the move.
A good sign for legality of initial drug approval
The court declined to consider a challenge to the 2000 approval of the drug, which a feminist law professor said is a ”VERY STRONG indication that the original approval of mifepristone is safe.” Chris Geidner writes in his Law Dork newsletter that the decision represents the ”best-case scenario" for abortion rights supporters. And The Economist’s Steven Mazie summed it up this way: “For people who want to ensure access to abortion pills, it is a GOOD thing that SCOTUS took this case.”
Since Roe was overturned, access to abortion pills has become more significant
In 2020, medication was used for just over half of all abortions in the U.S., according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights. Doctors and patients have relied on the pills even more since Roe was overturned, and a ruling that blocks access to the drug ”could dramatically reshape what abortion-related care medical providers can offer, even in states where the procedure remains legal,” The 19th reported. The drug remains available amid the legal dispute, which likely won’t be decided until next summer.
Americans support abortion drugs, but pro-life groups continue to criticize
A Pew Research Center study earlier this year found that 53% of Americans — including over a third of Republicans — say abortion pills should be legal in their state, compared to 22% who said they should be illegal. Anti-abortion groups continue to argue that the FDA acted recklessly and politically in approving the drug 20 years ago: “The Supreme Court and the entire country will hear the facts about Democrats’ dangerous mail-order abortion scheme,” the group Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America said in a statement.