Thursday, July 25, 2024

Supreme Court ruling upholds access to abortion pill

The U.S. Supreme Court will not change the rules when it comes to use of the abortion pill per a ruling handed down Thursday. (PCD/file photo)

WILMINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court will not change the rules when it comes to use of the abortion pill per a ruling handed down Thursday.

READ MORE: Judge strikes down abortion pill restrictions in NC law

In an unanimous decision written by Justice Brett Kavanaugh, the court rejected a case submitted by a group of anti-abortion organizations and doctors requesting the court roll back the Food and Drug Administration’s recent expanded access to the abortion pill mifepristone.

In 2021, the FDA approved a protocol for certified pharmacies to provide mifepristone directly to patients via in-person or mail-order with valid prescriptions.

However, the decision — made by the same court that decided to overturn Roe v. Wade in 2022 — did not address the morality or safety of the pill. The court determined the plaintiffs lacked standing, a legal doctrine that requires plaintiffs to show that they have suffered direct and concrete injuries to sue.

Per Kavanaugh’s opinion, the plaintiffs could not prove that.

Lawyers for the plaintiff claimed some emergency room doctors may be faced with treating patients suffering from complications after taking the pill, which could put pressure on them to choose between their personal morals and professional obligations.

Kavanaugh rejected that argument, stating the FDA’s regulations don’t apply to the plaintiff doctors and medical associations, who are trying to make the rules for others — doctors prescribing mifepristone and pregnant people taking it.

The justice also pointed out medical professionals are protected from acting against their conscience by the U.S. Constitution. He added that there are other ways to limit the availability of mifepristone, including by seeking greater regulatory or legislative restrictions.

The court’s ruling comes after a North Carolina court struck down a portion of the state’s abortion law, enacted last year.

U.S. District Court Judge Catherine Eagles ruled that mifepristone, the first pill in a two-step process of medication abortions, does not need to be taken in a clinical setting, as the law mandated. The pill can be provided by pharmacies and not just physicians, and a follow-up appointment after taking the pill is not required, though an advance consultation still is.

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