WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Friday decided the abortion pill mifepristone can remain on the market amid legal challenges, marking a rare win in the fight for women’s rights.
The court blocked a decision from Texas U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk on April 7 that the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of mifepristone was invalid. The court ruled 7-2 to keep the drug on the shelves amid the legal fight with only conservatives Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito saying they would have let part of Kacsmaryk’s ruling take effect.
“At present, the applicants are not entitled to a stay because they have not shown that they are likely to suffer irreparable harm in the interim,” Alito wrote.
“Contrary to the impression that may be held by many, that disposition would not express any view on the merits of the question whether the FDA acted lawfully in any of its actions regarding mifepristone,” he added.
The court, which has a 6-3 conservative majority, issued a temporary stay of Kacsmaryk’s ruling on April 14.
President Joe Biden released a statement after the decision was announced, vowing the Biden administration will continue its legal challenges to restrictions on the abortion pill.
“As a result of the Supreme Court’s stay, mifepristone remains available and approved for safe and effective use while we continue this fight in the courts,” Biden said. “I continue to stand by FDA’s evidence-based approval of mifepristone, and my Administration will continue to defend FDA’s independent, expert authority to review, approve, and regulate a wide range of prescription drugs.”
The court’s decision means women can still have access to mifepristone by mail, take it home, and use it up to 10 weeks into a pregnancy.
The case will now go down to the 5th Circuit of Appeals for oral arguments on May 17 oral arguments before a three-judge panel.
The decision comes amid various conservative states enacting new abortion restrictions that make it difficult or impossible in some cases to terminate a pregnancy, by either obtaining pills or undergoing a medical procedure.