Supreme Court Moves to Protect Medication Abortion

Medication Abortion Update

This morning, the Supreme Court released a decision to uphold the FDA’s approval of the medication abortion drug, mifepristone. The announcement is not only a victory for our clinic and patients, but for scientific integrity.

Mifepristone was originally challenged by anti-abortion groups, who claimed the FDA issued approval too hastily in 2000. By dismissing the FDA v. Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine case that sided with the drug’s challengers, The Supreme Court has ensured that mifepristone will remain as available as it is today, nationwide.

“Today we celebrate this meaningful victory thanks to our community’s relentless advocacy. Together, we fought tirelessly to ensure access to mifepristone because of its critical role in reproductive health care and its importance in expanding abortion access for our community members, especially those living at the intersections of systemic oppression disproportionately harmed by abortion bans and restrictions. This victory is not just for doctors and researchers who have built the body of medical evidence to support its use, but for every person who has [to] navigate the complex and hostile landscape of abortion access. It underscores the importance of continuing our collective efforts to expand access and uphold everyone’s fundamental right to full-spectrum reproductive health care.”

- Dr. Jamila Perritt, OB/GYN in Washington DC and President & CEO of Physicians for Reproductive Health

 

What was at stake?

Abortion access

Not only is mifepristone  exceptionally safe and highly effective, but it's currently used in over half of U.S. abortions.

Revoking the medication's approval would have been devastating, as it would mean mifepristone could not be accessed at pharmacies or via telehealth. Those seeking medication abortion would still have had options, but those alternatives are less effective and would only be available for 7 weeks instead of 10.

The alternative regimen of a single medication is less successful and has more side-effects than in combination with mifepristone.

FDA credibility

The FDA was established as an independent organization, to utilize the best evidence and science to determine and dictate the safety and efficacy of new medications. If courts can second-guess and undermine FDA approvals and regulatory decisions, that would upend the current process for drug approval and regulation and potentially endanger health and safety more broadly.

We have checks and balances in our judicial system, specifically for these extreme circumstances: to prevent one rogue Judge from having the power to disrupt reproductive freedom for millions. 

Case background

On April 7, 2023 Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk issued a decision to rescind the FDA's approval of mifepristone in Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine v. FDA. The immediate impact of the court’s decision was delayed for seven days to allow the Biden Administration to file an emergency appeal.

Then on April 13th, 2023 the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision that refused to block the order from the lower court, unleashing further chaos and confusion. Later the same day, the Department of Justice filed an appeal to the Supreme Court asking them to restore full access to mifepristone following the Fifth Circuit’s decision.

Mifepristone is safe and effective

We all know the decision by Judge Kacsmaryk is not based in medicine or science. We are glad the Supreme Court felt so as well.

Since mifepristone’s initial approval in 2000, it has been used by millions of people to end their pregnancies. This real-world experience coupled by more than 100 research publications in peer-reviewed journals supports mifepristone’s well-documented safety record.medication abortion news.png

In addition, leading medical and scientific organizations, including the World Health Organization, the American Medical Association, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the American Academy of Physicians, have continued to recognize the safety and efficacy of mifepristone and recommend its use in obstetric and abortion care.

We proudly provide the safest and most effective regimen for medication abortion,which includes mifepristone.

Medication abortion is crucial

Fourteen states are enforcing total abortion bans, with many other states imposing severe restrictions on abortion access. Still, individuals are seeking abortion.

Data from the Guttmacher's Monthly Abortion Provision Study show substantial increases in the number of abortions from 2020 to 2023 in states that border those where abortion is banned. This shows us that abortion restrictions and bans do not stop them from happening. Instead, they increase the financial and logistical costs of obtaining an abortion, disproportionately impacting marginalized groups.

Therefore, revoking FDA approval for mifepristone would not have prevented abortions. The decision would have, however, taken away an efficient and cost-effective option for those seeking them.

Our conclusion

The decision in this case has clarified that we,  as a nation, believe that scientists and doctors can practice according to science and evidence.

“While we celebrate today, we know there is much work to be done. We will continue fighting for comprehensive reproductive health care, listening to our community, and advocating for policies grounded in science, humanity, and the best medical practices."

- Dr. Jamila Perritt