Supreme Court Tosses Doctors’ Challenge to Abortion Pill

Mifepristone boxes
by Katelynn Richardson


The Supreme Court sided unanimously Thursday against several doctors and pro-life medical associations who brought a challenge to the abortion pill.

DCNF-logoIn FDA v. Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine, the Supreme Court held that the doctors do not have standing to challenge the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) decision to roll back safety regulations for the abortion pill. While recognizing the plaintiffs have “sincere legal, moral, ideological, and policy objections to elective abortion and to FDA’s relaxed regulation of mifepristone,” Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote in the majority rulings that those kind of objections are not enough to show the doctors would be injured by the FDA’s actions, noting the federal courts are “the wrong forum” for addressing their concerns.

“Under Article III of the Constitution, a plaintiff ’s desire to make a drug less available for others does not establish standing to sue,” Kavanaugh wrote. “Nor do the plaintiffs’ other standing theories suffice.”

Those who object to the abortion pill and its manner of regulation “may always take their concerns to the Executive and Legislative Branches and seek greater regulatory or legislative restrictions on certain activities,” Kavanaugh wrote.

In August 2023, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals found that the FDA “failed to address several important concerns” when it loosened restrictions on the abortion drug mifepristone after 2016. The appeals court narrowed an injunction earlier issued by Trump-appointed U.S. District Court Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, who required the FDA to reverse its initial 2000 approval of the pill altogether.

The FDA allowed distribution of mifepristone via mail and removed the initial in-person visit requirement in 2021. Earlier in 2016, it rolled back other safety regulations, enabling the drug to be used through ten weeks of pregnancy rather than seven.

The OB/GYNs and emergency room doctors who brought the challenge argued that women are more likely to require medical treatment as a result of the FDA’s relaxed safety standards, requiring them to sometimes, in violation of their conscience, complete an unfinished chemical abortion to address complications.

“While we’re disappointed the Court did not reach the merits of the FDA’s unlawful actions, nothing in today’s decision changes this fact: women and girls are being harmed by the FDA’s recklessness,” the Alliance Defending Freedom wrote in a statement following the ruling. “We will continue to advocate for women’s health and expose the careless actions of the FDA and the harms of abortion drugs.”

OB-GYN Ingrid Skop, who is a member of one of the case’s plaintiff organizations and vice president and director of medical affairs at Charlotte Lozier Institute, said it is “deeply disappointing that the FDA was not held accountable today for its reckless decisions.”

“As a practicing OB-GYN with over 30 years’ experience, I have seen firsthand that mail-order abortion drugs harm my patients, both mothers and their unborn children,” Skop said in a statement. “Abortion advocates and corporate media ignore their stories as they shamelessly promote mail-order distribution of dangerous drugs without a single in-person doctor visit.”

In 2023, abortions hit their highest levels in a decade as a result of expanding access to the abortion pill. Chemical abortions now account for 63 percent of all abortions in the United States, according to Guttmacher Institute data from 2023.

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Katelynn Richardson is a reporter at Daily Caller News Foundation.
Photo “Mifepristone” by Robin Marty. CC BY 2.0.

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