US Congressional Republicans file brief opposing emergency relief in abortion drug mifepristone case News
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US Congressional Republicans file brief opposing emergency relief in abortion drug mifepristone case

A group of 147 Congressional Republicans Wednesday filed an amicus brief with the US Supreme Court opposing the US Department of Justice’s (DOJ) request for emergency relief in the case concerning the Food And Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval of the abortion drug mifepristone. The Supreme Court has temporarily extended the availability of the medication, and their decision on the DOJ’s request will determine whether that availability will continue.

The group of Republican lawmakers, a combination of both Representatives and Senators led by US Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) and US Representative August Pfluger (R-TX), asked the Supreme Court to deny the DOJ’s request for medication abortion to remain available. The lawmakers allege that “the FDA’s unlawful deregulation of chemical abortion drugs subverts Congress’ public policy considerations and safeguards for patient safety.” Their argument is based on three claims: 

  1. The FDA’s approval of medication abortion violated the prescribed approval process, which creates “grave risks to the health and safety of women and girls;”
  2. The FDA does not follow adequate pediatric study requirements, which “endangers pregnant adolescents;” and
  3. The FDA violated federal law and created “serious hazards for women’s health and safety” by allowing abortion drugs to be mailed.

Medical professionals have rejected claims that mifepristone endangers the health of patients seeking abortions, with groups like the American Medical Association (AMA) urging courts not to limit access to the drug. In an earlier brief, the AMA asserted that the scientific evidence supporting mifepristone’s safety is “overwhelming” and “on par with common painkillers like ibuprofen [Advil] and acetaminophen [Tylenol].”

The action by Congressional Republicans comes a little more than a week after 240 Congressional Democrats filed their own amicus brief supporting the availability of medication abortion. They wrote that Congress intended to delegate drug approval to the FDA’s experts and that restricting medication abortion through the courts would have “perilous consequences” that “reach far beyond mifepristone.” The group of Democratic lawmakers warned that other FDA-approved medications could be at risk, including treatments for asthma, HIV, infertility, heart disease, diabetes and others.

The dispute over the availability of medication abortion follows other attempts to restrict abortion access in the US after Supreme Court overruled Roe V. Wade and declared that there is no constitutional right to abortion. International human rights groups have raised the alarm about these efforts, with over 100 organizations and advocates recently urging the UN to take action against US abortion restrictions.