US Supreme Court upholds access to abortion pill mifepristone

Biden welcomes ruling and rebukes ‘extreme and dangerous agenda’ attacks on reproductive rights by Republican officials.

Anti-abortion protesters
Demonstrators protest for abortion rights outside the Supreme Court in Washington, DC, June 24, 2022 [File: Jacquelyn Martin/AP Photo]

The United States Supreme Court has rejected a bid to curb access to a drug used in abortions, ending an attempt by abortion opponents to limit access to the procedure.

In a 9-0 ruling on Thursday, the justices overturned a lower court’s decision last year to limit access to the drug mifepristone, used in more than half of abortions in the country.

The Food and Drug Administration had taken steps in 2016 and 2021 to ease how the pill is prescribed and distributed.

The pill, given FDA regulatory approval in 2000, is used in more than 60 percent of US abortions, according to a recent study.

The conservative-dominated Supreme Court in 2022 overturned a key ruling that granted the right to abortion, sparking outrage from women’s rights advocates and Democrats.

Thursday’s decision has come months before the US elections, where reproductive rights have been a top theme in the campaign.

Three of the top court’s justices who overturned Roe v Wade – the 1973 legal precedent that enshrined the right to abortion – had been appointed by former President Donald Trump, who is set for a rematch with US President Joe Biden in November.

Since the revoking of the guarantee of abortion rights at the federal level, dozens of Republican-led states have imposed bans and severe restrictions on access to the procedure.

In the past two years, Democrats have stressed abortion rights and reproductive freedom to hit out against Republicans.

Biden welcomed the top court’s decision on the abortion pill on Thursday, stressing that the ruling “does not change the fact that the right for a woman to get the treatment she needs is imperiled if not impossible in many states”.

“But let’s be clear: attacks on medication abortion are part of Republican elected officials’ extreme and dangerous agenda to ban abortion nationwide,” Biden said in a statement.

The Supreme Court ruled that the plaintiffs behind the lawsuit challenging mifepristone lacked the necessary legal standing to pursue the case, which required that they show they have been harmed in a way that can be traced to the FDA.

Abortion is a prominent political issue in the US. For decades, restricting abortions has been a top goal for conservative religious groups. Liberals, who oppose government restrictions on abortion, argue that the procedure is part of a woman’s healthcare, personal choices and bodily autonomy.

Trump, who enjoys wide popularity amongst conservative Christians who oppose abortion, said in April he would not sign a federal abortion ban into law if elected. Last year, he called a six-week abortion ban in Florida a “terrible mistake”.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies