The US Supreme Court has temporarily blocked restrictions on the abortion pill mifepristone ordered by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals last week. The decision keeps access to the medication unchanged, at least until the appeals court rules on the legality of the approval US regulators gave the drug more than 20 years ago. Mifepristone is used in more than half of all abortions in the United States. The Supreme Court’s decision represents the first time the court has ruled on an abortion-related case since its controversial decision last summer to remove the constitutional protection that had been in place since the 1970s.
Texas federal Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, a nominee of former President Donald Trump, ordered the health authorization of the abortion pill withdrawn. Joe Biden’s administration appealed the order, and a Louisiana appeals court ruled that mifepristone be available only through the first seven weeks of pregnancy, three weeks less than before, and that it be picked up in person, among other restrictions. The Justice Department took the case to the Supreme Court on the grounds that the restriction would have serious consequences for women and for the pharmaceutical industry, and the high court has had to intervene.
The ruling sends the case back to the appeals court, which has set a date for oral arguments to begin on May 17. US President Joe Biden has assured that his government will continue to defend the approval of mifepristone by regulators and has stated that he will continue to “fight politically motivated attacks on women’s health.” Planned Parenthood, which operates the largest network of reproductive health clinics in the country, applauded Friday’s decision but warned that women’s health should not be at the mercy of the judicial system.
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