WASHINGTON, D.C. (LifeSiteNews) – The U.S. Supreme Court has extended a temporary hold on enforcing a ruling against the distribution of abortion pills until Friday, to give the justices more time to consider the case.
On April 7, Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk issued an order suspending the U.S. Food & Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) approval of the abortion drug mifepristone, finding the agency did not adequately investigate its long-term effects. The same day, Judge Thomas Rice ruled that the pill should remain on the market in 15 states plus the District of Columbia.
The Biden administration challenged the ruling, and a three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals partially blocked Kacsmaryk’s decision, ruling that mifepristone should remain available but keeping suspended the administration’s approval of dispensing it via the mail. The administration then asked the nation’s highest court to step in.
In a brief April 19 order issued by conservative Justice Samuel Alito, the court announced that the “stay issued on April 14, 2023, is hereby extended until 11:59 p.m. (EDT) on Friday, April 21, 2023.” The order did not elaborate further.
The move means that mifepristone may continue to be distributed until Friday, although that could change soon after pending the justices’ final decision.
Last June, five justices voted to overturn Roe v. Wade, reversing a precedent that had been entrenched for half a century and allowing states to directly ban abortion. But it remains to be seen how the justices will rule in this case, which involves other variables such as legal standing and whether the Court wants to be perceived as interfering with so-called “medical expertise.”
Evidence shows that abortion pills carry specific risks for the mothers who take them (on top of being lethal to their preborn children), especially when the standards for taking them continue to be relaxed.
A 2020 open letter from a coalition of pro-life groups to then-FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn noted that the FDA’s own adverse reporting system says the “abortion pill has resulted in over 4,000 reported adverse events since 2000, including 24 maternal deaths. Adverse events are notoriously underreported to the FDA, and as of 2016, the FDA only requires abortion pill manufacturers to report maternal deaths.”
Pro-lifers warn that with the Biden administration completely eliminating requirements that abortion pills be taken under any medical supervision or with medical support close by, those events are certain to increase.
“A November 2021 study by Charlotte Lozier Institute scholars appeared in the peer-reviewed journal Health Services Research and Managerial Epidemiology,” writes Catholic University of America research associate Michael New. “They analyzed state Medicaid data of over 400,000 abortions from 17 states that fund elective abortions through their Medicaid programs. They found that the rate of abortion-pill-related emergency-room visits increased over 500 percent from 2002 through 2015. The rate of emergency-room visits for surgical abortions also increased during the same time period, but by a much smaller margin.’”
Yet the White House and the abortion lobby have determined that, with the fall of Roe last summer, easy distribution of abortion pills will be one of their chief methods of preserving abortion “access.” In November 2022, Operation Rescue reported that a net decrease of 36 abortion facilities in 2022 has led to the lowest number in almost 50 years, but the chemical abortion business has “surged,” with 64 percent of new facilities built last year specializing in dispensing mifepristone and misoprostol.
Other left-wing strategies to promote abortion “access” include legal protection and financial support of interstate abortion travel, attempting to enshrine “rights” to the practice in state constitutions, and attempting to construct new abortion facilities near borders shared by pro-life and pro-abortion states.
Meanwhile, President Joe Biden has called on Congress to codify a “right” to abortion in federal law, which would not only restore but expand the Roe status quo by making it illegal for states to pass virtually any pro-life laws. Democrats currently lack the votes to do so, but whether they get those votes is sure to be one of the major issues of the 2024 elections.