Supreme Court preserves mifepristone abortion pill access

June 13, 2024

The Supreme Court ruled that a group of anti-abortion doctors does not have any legal basis to challenge access to mifepristone, one of the two common drugs used in medication abortion. 

The majority opinion didn’t address the underlying regulatory or safety issues the plaintiffs brought up, and instead decided the case only on standing. As a result, access to mifepristone won’t change.  

The drug will remain available to people up to the 10th week of pregnancy, and will still be available through the mail. 

The justices found the conservative doctors in the lawsuit did not show they had personally been harmed by the government’s actions to regulate mifepristone.   

Still, mifepristone remains illegal in the more than a dozen states that ban abortion.  

The case centered around whether federal regulators overstepped their authority by loosening restrictions to make mifepristone easier to access.  

Those changes included increasing the gestational age at which mifepristone can be used to up to 10 weeks of pregnancy, allowing the medication to be mailed to patients, lowering the dosage, allowing telehealth prescribing, and permitting providers other than physicians to prescribe the drug.  

Since the Supreme Court eliminated the nationwide right to abortion in 2022, more people have been using medication to terminate pregnancies. Medication abortion accounted for 63 percent of all abortions in the formal health care system in 2023, according to the Guttmacher Institute, an abortion rights research group. 

Anti-abortion groups indicated the decision was only a temporary setback, and they are confident they can find another way to challenge the drugs.  

For instance, the same district court in Texas that originally ruled against the FDA said a group of red states led by Missouri can intervene in the lawsuit.