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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Supreme Court temporarily allows access to abortion pill mifepristone amid judges' contradicting orders

The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday temporarily allowed access to the abortion pill mifepristone after a Texas ruling last week set limits to the use of the drug. 

Justice Samuel Alito halted the lower court rulings that seek to limit access to mifepristone Friday, which in turn freezes the litigation being pursued by anti-abortion groups and maintains availability. 

The conservative justice asked for challenges to the lower court ruling to be filed by Tuesday at noon.

Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas ruled last week that the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) improperly approved mifepristone.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) filed emergency requests Friday to freeze Kacsmaryk’s injunction, along with Danco Laboratories. 

The halt on the ruling gives the Biden administration more time to issue challenges.

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Abortion drugs Mifepristone (Mifeprex) and Misoprostol

Abortion drugs Mifepristone (Mifeprex) and Misoprostol (Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images)

Kacsmaryk’s ruling would limit the drug’s distribution and jeopardize mifepristone’s FDA approval.

The Biden administration is planning to defend mifepristone’s availability in light of the landmark Dobbs decision to overturn Roe v. Wade in June 2022. 

Anti-abortion groups and Republican legislators across the country are advocating for abortion bans and restrictions. 

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U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito (Erin Schaff/The New York Times via AP Pool, File)

The Supreme Court will keep the Texas ruling on hold until 11:59 p.m. Wednesday. The court is expected to issue another order by that time.

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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved mifepristone in 2000. It has been used to terminate more than 5 million pregnancies.

Vice President Kamala Harris speaks during a Task Force on Reproductive Health Care Access meeting with Merrick Garland, U.S. attorney general, left, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., Wednesday.

Vice President Kamala Harris speaks during a Task Force on Reproductive Health Care Access meeting with Merrick Garland, U.S. attorney general, left, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., Wednesday. (Julia Nikhinson/CNP/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Reuters contributed to this report.

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