US Supreme Court could limit access to abortion pill in new term

Here are the major SCOTUS cases to watch in the new term.
Published: Oct. 3, 2023 at 11:11 AM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- A new term has started for the U.S. Supreme Court term. The nation’s highest court is expected to review several controversial cases, among the access to the abortion pill, Mifepristone.

The court will decide whether or not it should continue to be easily accessible. Mifepristone is used in more than half of abortions nationwide. It’s important to note that the Supreme Court will not weigh in on the right to a prescription pill-based abortion. This case, however, is specifically about whether or not the FDA adequately proved the pill is safe.

It has significant implications for Arizona, where the abortion pill is available. The abortion pill was originally approved in 2000. In 2021, the FDA broadened access, allowing the drug to be prescribed online through telehealth visits. But in 2022, after SCOTUS overturned the federal right to an abortion, several anti-abortion activist groups filed a lawsuit against the FDA, stating they believed its approval of the abortion pill was flawed and, therefore, unsafe.

The FDA has since battled those claims. In April this year, the Fifth Circuit of Appeals ruled that Mifepristone can stay on the market with significant restrictions. Specifically, the pill had to be taken in a health care setting.

After that ruling, the Biden Administration filed for emergency relief from the Supreme Court, which prevented those rules from being imposed. In this term, the court will decide whether or not the restrictions should stay or whether to remove approval of the drug altogether.

“It had the effect of limiting a significant number of abortions that rely upon this two-drug cocktail. So, that is a really important case for abortion activists on either side of the spectrum. And it’s really important because it also goes right to the heart of whether or not the FDA makes these decisions for which drug is on the market for which people,” said Bob Sewell, host of the “Is That Even Legal” podcast.

Since the Supreme Court struck down federal access to abortion last year, several states have total bans on abortion. This case won’t have much of an impact in those states. But for others, there is a lot on the line. Other high-profile cases include social media moderation/censorship, congressional map gerrymandering, and gun restrictions.

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