U.S. Supreme Court docket to listen to case about entry to the abortion capsule mifepristone : NPR

The U.S. Supreme Court docket says it can hear a case in regards to the abortion capsule mifepristone subsequent yr and assessment a decrease court docket choice that will make it more durable to get that medication.


The Supreme Court docket has agreed to listen to a case about an abortion capsule. The court docket says it can assessment decrease court docket choices that will make it more durable to get mifepristone subsequent yr. Let’s discuss this with Sarah Varney, who’s a journalist who covers reproductive rights. Sarah, good morning.


INSKEEP: What’s at difficulty right here?

VARNEY: So simply to stroll by way of what’s occurred thus far, there was a federal decide in Amarillo, Texas. He was appointed by former President Trump, and he truly revoked the approval of mifepristone solely. Then that call was appealed to the Fifth Circuit, which is in New Orleans. And that court docket did not agree with that sweeping choice. However it did agree with a bunch of anti-abortion organizations that argued the FDA’s approval strategy of mifepristone was flawed and that the FDA erred when it made the drug extra extensively accessible, together with by way of telemedicine and thru the mail. So yesterday, the Supreme Court docket justices agreed to take up an attraction to that call from the corporate that makes mifepristone and the Biden administration. They usually’re asking the Supreme Court docket to reverse that ruling by the Fifth Circuit.

INSKEEP: That is actually attention-grabbing. So it is not only a yes-no choice on whether or not the FDA correctly authorized this capsule. There are additionally questions on the way it’s accessible and quite a lot of FDA decisions over quite a lot of years. So how might entry to the capsule be affected?

VARNEY: Certain. Nicely, , simply to start out, abortion drugs account for greater than half of all abortions on this nation. They usually’re actually used additionally by OB-GYNs to handle early miscarriages, in order that they’re massively essential. If the Supreme Court docket upholds the appellate ruling by the Fifth Circuit, then sufferers wouldn’t have the ability to get mifepristone by way of the mail, even when they dwell in states like Massachusetts or California the place abortion is authorized. They must make three separate appointments in particular person with a physician. This isn’t at present required. And as a substitute of having the ability to use mifepristone into the tenth week of being pregnant, sufferers might solely use it till seven weeks. This does not imply treatment abortion would grow to be solely unavailable. Clinics and physicians and telemedicine companies might nonetheless prescribe a drug referred to as misoprostol. That is normally taken with mifepristone, however it can be taken safely and successfully by itself. And simply to notice that misoprostol was truly authorized by the FDA in 1988, so fairly a very long time in the past, to deal with gastric ulcers. The anti-abortion teams – we simply have not seen them goal that approval course of but.

INSKEEP: But, you say. Now, since that is all about FDA approval and whether or not it was correct, what does this case imply for the FDA?

VARNEY: Yeah, it is a actually uncommon case. You recognize, the FDA authorized this treatment greater than 20 years in the past. Greater than 5 million folks within the U.S. have used it safely. It is authorized to be used all over the world. And this case has attracted a variety of consideration from FDA students, , some who help abortion rights. Others don’t. They really filed an amicus transient defending the FDA’s rigorous drug approval course of. They usually argued that if spiritual teams or non-public people can problem, , every drug that the FDA evaluations, that it actually undermines the whole FDA regulatory authority, and it is going to throw the pharmaceutical business and, actually, the nation’s regulation of medicine simply into disarray.

INSKEEP: OK, so the court docket now listening to a case that will go all the best way into 2024, which occurs to be an election yr. Sarah Varney, thanks a lot. Actually admire it.

VARNEY: Oh, thanks, Steve.

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