US Supreme Court again temporarily extends availability of abortion drug mifepristone News
Janni Rye, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons
US Supreme Court again temporarily extends availability of abortion drug mifepristone

The US Supreme Court Wednesday released an order temporarily extending access to the abortion pill mifepristone, giving the court more time to consider the suspension of the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval of the drug over 20 years ago. The extension ensures that mifepristone will remain widely available while the court assesses the US Department of Justice’s request for emergency relief.

The short order, issued by Justice Alito, extended the earlier administrative stay to this Friday, April 21. The order gives the justices more time to decide whether to block the approval and distribution of mifepristone. It is possible the justices could make a ruling before the deadline.

The order is a response to the Northern Texas district court ruling that declared the FDA’s approval of the drug in the year 2000 invalid. The ruling, issued by Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, would prevent millions of people nationwide from accessing mifepristone. In his opinion, Kacsmaryk’s claimed that approval procedures for the drug were inadequate and that the safety record of the drug has been ignored. As such, the ruling prevented mifepristone from being distributed in much of the country.

Kacsmaryk’s ruling came alongside a contradicting ruling from district court Judge Thomas Rice in Washington state that blocked the FDA from limiting the availability of mifepristone throughout the country. Rice’s ruling approved of the drug’s safety record and asserted that there was no reason to ban its distribution. The Biden administration then appealed Kacsmaryk’s decision limiting access and asked the Supreme Court to issue a decision on the two competing rulings. Members of Congress have also weighed in, with a significant number of Congressional Republicans asking the court to restrict mifepristone’s access and Congressional Democrats calling for its availability to continue.

The court began its review of the mifepristone case on April 14 and is now expected to render a decision by Friday.