Friday, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito intervened to prevent a Texas court ruling from taking effect, thus preserving access to the widely used abortion pill mifepristone. His administrative stay gave women in the state the freedom to continue to access the medication.
In a rapid response to an emergency appeal from President Joe Biden, Justice Samuel Alito issued a stay allowing the Food and Drug Administration and Danco Laboratories, LLC – the manufacturer of mifepristone – to continue providing the drug until April 19, 2023. This ruling marks an important step in ensuring that people have access to the healthcare they need.
The Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine is challenging the FDA’s decision to approve the abortion pill, filing the case in November 2022. With a deadline of April 18, the Alliance has until noon to submit their response. This high-stakes case could have far-reaching implications, as it could drastically alter the landscape of reproductive rights in the United States.
The Alliance launched a lawsuit, claiming that the FDA’s approval of mifepristone was politically motivated and its safety inadequately evaluated.
Last week, District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk issued a groundbreaking ruling in favor of the Alliance and blocked the sale of mifepristone. In a detailed 67-page decision, Kacsmaryk found that the plaintiffs had a strong chance of prevailing in court and that the FDA had acted improperly in approving the drug, citing a lack of sufficient evidence to support its decision. This ruling stands as a major victory for the Alliance and the women whose health will be protected as a result.
In response to the ruling, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have declared their commitment to preserving access to mifepristone, vowing to fight for its availability. With this powerful promise, they have made it clear that protecting reproductive rights is a cornerstone of their administration.
The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals threw a wrench into the mix, partially blocking the original ruling. While they upheld the approval of mifepristone, they refused to allow its delivery by mail or without a doctor’s sign-off, as previously ordered by Kacsmaryk.
The FDA, represented by the Office of the Solicitor General, launched an appeal asserting that mifepristone is safe, citing numerous studies that found no serious side effects when taken according to the drug’s label and approved conditions. In other words, this drug is exceedingly rare in causing severe repercussions.
The FDA urged that if the lower courts’ orders were to stand, their scientific judgment would be impeded and the healthcare system would suffer, as mifepristone – an alternative to more burdensome and invasive surgical abortions – would no longer be available. Such an outcome would have a profound impact on the reliance many have in the healthcare system.
Biopharma’s disapproval of U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor’s decision was made known in an open letter signed by more than 480 industry leaders, dubbing it an “act of judicial interference” that would weaken the FDA’s authority and potentially be used to target other approved medicines. The letter blasted Kacsmaryk’s decision, demanding that the preliminary injunction be halted.