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Supreme Court Delivers Unanimous Ruling That Could Impact 2024

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously rejected a challenge to the Food and Drug Administration’s authority to regulate an abortion-related medication.

Justices ruled 9-0 that challengers lacked standing to oppose the FDA’s regulatory approval process of the abortion drug mifepristone, in a decision seen as a victory for the Biden administration and abortion rights activists.

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

“The plaintiffs have sincere legal, moral, ideological, and policy objections to elective abortion and to FDA’s relaxed regulation of mifepristone,” he said. “But under Article III of the Constitution, those kinds of objections alone do not establish a justiciable case or controversy in federal court,” he added.

The justices remanded the case back down to the Fifth Circuit, consistent with the Court’s opinion.

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The case stemmed from a set of lawsuits filed by a group of healthcare associations, Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine, who claimed that the drug has a high rate of complications.

Erin Hawley, counsel for the civil rights firm Alliance Defending Freedom, who argued the case against the FDA, said, “We are disappointed that the Supreme Court did not reach the merits of the FDA’s lawless removal of commonsense safety standards for abortion drugs.”

She added: “Nothing in today’s decision changes the fact that the FDA’s own label says that roughly one in 25 women who take chemical abortion drugs will end up in the emergency room — a dangerous reality the doctors and medical associations we represent in this case know all too well. The FDA recklessly leaves women and girls to take these high-risk drugs all alone in their homes or dorm, without requiring the ongoing, in-person care of a doctor.”

“While we’re disappointed with the court’s decision, we will continue to advocate for women and work to restore commonsense safeguards for abortion drugs — like an initial office visit to screen for ectopic pregnancies. And we are grateful that three states stand ready to hold the FDA accountable for jeopardizing the health and safety of women and girls across this country,” she noted further.

The justices ruled that the group could not prove that the FDA’s relaxed regulatory environment is actually causing harm, thereby removing their standing to file the suit.

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“Here, the plaintiffs have failed to demonstrate that FDA’s relaxed regulatory requirements likely would cause them to suffer an injury in fact. For that reason, the federal courts are the wrong forum for addressing the plaintiffs’ concerns about FDA’s actions,” Kavanaugh said.

“The plaintiffs may present their concerns and objections to the President and FDA in the regulatory process, or to Congress and the President in the legislative process. And they may also express their views about abortion and mifepristone to fellow citizens, including in the political and electoral processes,” he wrote.

In March, the justices heard about 90 minutes of arguments regarding federal government regulations since 2016 that facilitated access to mifepristone, including access by mail.

Fox News noted further:

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In overturning Roe v. Wade in June 2022, the Supreme Court ruled in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization that the U.S. Constitution does not guarantee the right to an abortion and that the matter may be decided by the states.

In the aftermath, 14 states have banned abortion at all stages of pregnancy, with some exceptions, and two others have banned abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected, which is at around six weeks of gestation. 

Mifepristone is taken along with misoprostol to create the two-drug combination known as medication abortion or the “abortion pill.”

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