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Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Justice Dept and abortion pill manufacturer ask Supreme Court to hear case on mifepristone access

Danco Laboratories, the drugmaker of the abortion pill mifepristone, has asked the Supreme Court to review a lower court’s decision limiting access to the pill, the company announced in a news release Friday. On Friday evening, the Justice Department also asked the Supreme Court to review the Fifth Circuit’s judgment.

Danco and the Justice Department want the Supreme Court to reverse the circuit court’s ruling that would prevent women from obtaining the drug by mail order and would prohibit the pill after seven weeks of pregnancy.

The plaintiffs in the case, a group of physicians and medical associations opposed to abortion rights, say the Food and Drug Administration failed to adequately consider the drug’s safety and “chose politics over science” when it approved the pill in 2000.

The Justice Department asserted in its filing Friday that the plaintiffs lack standing in the case, arguing that since they aren’t required to receive or prescribe mifepristone, the FDA’s decision “does not impose any concrete, particularized, or imminent harm on them.”

The department also argues that The Fifth Circuit’s decision should be reviewed because “it would impose an unprecedented and profoundly disruptive result,” causing “unnecessary restrictions” on a drug that has been “safely used by millions of Americans over more than two decades.” It noted that many rely on mifepristone as an option over surgical abortions for those “who choose to lawfully terminate their early pregnancies.”

Further, the Justice Department said the Fifth Circuit’s ruling should be reviewed in light of its “serious legal errors,” asserting that the lower court’s “novel ‘standing’ analysis” means that medical associations would be able to file lawsuits “that might incidentally affect the practices of one of their associations’ members.”

“Pulmonologists could sue the Environmental Protection Agency to challenge regulations that increased (or reduced) air pollution; pediatricians could sue the Department of Agriculture to challenge standards that imperiled (or improved) student nutrition,”the Justice Department wrote.

Last month, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit issued a rulingthat allowed the pill to remain legal, but with significant hurdles to patient access. The Fifth Circuit upheld the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the widely used pill, but said actions the FDA took in recent years to make the pill easier to obtain went too far.

An earlier Supreme Court order in April ensured the drug will remain accessible either until the highest court takes up the case and issues a ruling, or turns down a request to review the Fifth Circuit’s decision.

The White House has vocally opposed the changes the Fifth Circuit’s decision would make to access to the pill.

“Due to the Supreme Court’s stay, mifepristone remains broadly available for now,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said after the Fifth Circuit’s decision. “But if the Fifth Circuit’s ruling stands, it will significantly roll back the ability for women in every state to get the health care they need, and undermine FDA’s scientific, evidence-based process for approving safe and effective medications that patients rely on.”

Melissa Quinn contributed to this report.

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