Supreme Court rules that mifepristone shall remain on the market; appeals expected

April 21, the Supreme Court sided with the Biden Administration on the mifepristone ruling. This decision has ensured that mifepristone will be readily available during the mifepristone lawsuit, which has been moved back to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, a district court representing Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi. 

Following the overturn of Roe v Wade in June 2022, Texas-based Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine, a medical group in Texas, sued the United States Food and Drug Administration last year. The group claimed that the F.D.A. unlawfully approved the drug mifepristone, which is used for medical abortions and for treating miscarriages, in 2000. If the Texas-based medical group wins the lawsuit, mifepristone could be removed from U.S markets. 

Since the lawsuit, Matthew Kacsmaryk, the U.S District Judge in charge of the lawsuit, issued a temporary order April 7 which suspended the use of mifepristone temporarily. The Biden Administration asked the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for mifepristone to receive an emergency stay; allowing mifepristone to remain on the market. 

April 12, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that mifepristone could stay on the market, but with a list of restrictions. One of mifepristone’s new requirements is that someone must visit a doctor before they access mifepristone and that they cannot take the drug if they are more than seven weeks pregnant. 

After this development, the Biden Administration asked The Supreme Court to overrule the 5th U.S. Circuit of Court Appeals to put Kacsmaryk’s order on pause entirely. This would keep mifepristone available as it was before the lawsuit, without restrictions, as the court decides who to side with. 

The case went to Supreme Court justice Samuel Alito, who put Kacsymark’s order on hold until Friday, April 21. This was pushed back from the Court’s initial hearing on Wednesday, April 19, in order to give the court more time to decide. 

In response to this case, abortion providers have stated that, if mifepristone is banned, misoprostol can be used on its own to terminate pregnancy. Generally, if someone wants to induce a medical abortion they take mifepristone and misoprostol together. However, misoprostol can be used on its own to terminate a pregnancy, but its rates of success are lower than using misoprostol with mifepristone.