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Abortion Pill Case Met with Skepticism by US Supreme Court Justices

Abortion Pill Case Met with Skepticism by US Supreme Court
BBC BBC
Abortion Pill Case Met with Skepticism by US Supreme Court
BBC BBC

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Abortion Pill Case Met with Skepticism by US Supreme Court Justices

The US Supreme Court exhibited skepticism toward an effort to restrict access to the commonly used abortion drug, mifepristone, during a Tuesday hearing.

Several justices questioned the appropriateness of challenging the drug’s federal approval, marking it as the most significant abortion case before the court since the national right to abortion was terminated in June 2022.

The case focuses on decisions made by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to relax restrictions on mifepristone’s usage since 2016. The Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine, a coalition of anti-abortion doctors and activists, filed a lawsuit in November 2022, alleging that the drug is unsafe and that the FDA wrongly expanded access to it.

Despite numerous studies confirming mifepristone’s safety since its FDA approval in 2000, the group argues that its members may suffer harm by treating patients who use the drug to terminate pregnancies, citing religious objections.

However, the US Solicitor General argued that the doctors failed to demonstrate direct harm caused by the FDA’s decisions. She warned that ruling in favor of the anti-abortion group could disrupt the federal drug approval system and harm women nationwide.

Several justices, including some conservatives who previously ruled in favor of anti-abortion plaintiffs, questioned the legitimacy of the case. Justice Amy Coney Barrett queried whether the cited doctors were compelled to terminate pregnancies against their will.

Concerns were also raised about the potential consequences of ruling in favor of the group, with Justice Neil Gorsuch questioning the risk of turning a small lawsuit into a nationwide legislative assembly.

Furthermore, liberal justices questioned why the doctors were not already protected by their right to conscientious objection to certain procedures like abortion.

Mifepristone, used in combination with misoprostol, is the most common method of abortion in the US, accounting for 63% of all abortions in 2023. Since 2016, access to the drug has expanded, allowing its use until the 10-week mark and permitting retail pharmacies to dispense it.

A ruling against the FDA could curtail access to mifepristone by rolling back these expansions, raising concerns about its impact on abortion rights in the US. As abortion remains a contentious political issue, both anti-abortion advocates and reproductive rights groups gathered outside the Supreme Court during the hearing, calling on justices to support their respective positions.


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