WASHINGTON, D.C. (LifeSiteNews) — U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito on Friday tapped the brakes on a Texas lawsuit that could result in the nationwide ban on the lethal pill mifepristone, the first drug in the so-called “gold standard” chemical abortion regimen.
On Friday, Justice Alito granted the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s request for an administrative stay, temporarily making mifepristone fully available again in all 50 states after an April 7 order by a U.S. District Judge out of Texas to suspend FDA approval of the pill nationwide.
The move comes after the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday partially blocked the nationwide suspension of the drug following an appeal by the FDA. The decision would have allowed some restrictions on the deadly drug to take effect on Saturday had the Supreme Court not stepped in.
According to Vox, the Supreme Court’s administrative stay “was issued by Alito acting alone through a process that allows a single justice to temporarily halt decisions handed down by federal appeals courts. Alito is the justice assigned to review such cases arising out of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.”
The stay will last only until Wednesday, and the Supreme Court has called on pro-life groups to submit additional briefings by Tuesday, The Washington Post noted Vox pointed out that the administrative stay gives the justices time to decide how to handle the matter and doesn’t necessarily represent an indication as to how the Court will ultimately rule.
As LifeSiteNews previously reported, the conservative legal group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) filed a lawsuit on behalf of four medical organizations and four doctors against the U.S. FDA in November, arguing that the agency had inappropriately fast-tracked its approval of mifepristone back in 2000. The case doesn’t hinge on the ethics of the abortion drug or the nature of abortion itself, but rather the regulatory process that led to the drug’s entrance onto the market over two decades ago.
The FDA has argued its approval was appropriate and expressed worry that a court decision opposing its greenlighting of mifepristone could create issues with pharmaceutical companies trusting FDA approvals in future.
Mifepristone, which works by depriving the growing infant of needed progesterone, effectively starving him to death, is generally combined with the follow-up drug misoprostol, which induces labor to deliver the deceased infant. Together, the sequence is considered the “gold standard” for chemical abortions, which account for over half of all abortions committed nationwide.
LifeSiteNews and other pro-life groups have long warned that the abortion-inducing drugs carry risks for mothers in addition to killing growing babies.
In a recent press release, Texas Right to Life cited data indicating “that 1 in 5 women experience an adverse event following a chemical abortion,” and that women are four times more likely to suffer complications from medication abortions than surgical abortions, requiring follow-up surgeries in 3-8% of cases.
The most recent moves by the Supreme Court come after the ADF and the groups it represents last month asked Trump-appointed U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk based in Amarillo, Texas, for a preliminary injunction that would temporarily block prescription of the abortion drug nationwide.
On April 7, Kacsmaryk responded by handing down a ruling to suspend FDA approval of mifepristone in all 50 states but allowing the FDA to seek emergency relief from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Kacsmaryk’s judgment was immediately countered by an Obama-appointed judge in Washington state who ordered that the drug remain legal in 17 states.
On Wednesday, after an emergency request from the Biden administration’s FDA, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals partially blocked Kacsmaryk’s ruling, requesting that the drugs remain temporarily available pending ongoing litigation.
The fate of abortion pills now rests with the conservative-leaning U.S. Supreme Court, leading abortion advocates to worry that the Court could move to uphold Kacsmaryk’s ruling and trigger a nationwide ban on the deadly pills.