Supreme Court faced with deciding fate of abortion pill mifepristone

The Food and Drug Administration approved the abortion-inducing drug in 2000 as a safe method to terminate pregnancies.

SAN ANTONIO — The U.S. Supreme Court will be confronted with arguments over abortion pill access Tuesday, paving the way toward an uncertain future for reproductive rights nationwide.

Medication abortions accounted for 63% of all abortions in the U.S. in 2023, marking a jump from 53% in 2020, according to a study by the Guttmacher Institute.

Mifepristone is the drug at the center of debate. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved mifepristone in 2000 as a safe and effective abortion method to be used alongside misoprostol.

The legal dispute stems from the FDA’s actions dating back to 2016 that expanded access to mifepristone.

A group of anti-abortion medical associations filed a lawsuit in federal district court in 2022, challenging the FDA’s initial approval of mifepristone and additional recent changes that made it easier to obtain the pill.

Trust Women, an abortion clinic in Wichita, Kansas is among the sanctuaries for those seeking services before and after the overturning of Roe v. Wade nearly two years ago, which left abortion policies up to state legislatures. The clinic has welcomed people from across the country, including Texas.

“Around 80% of the people we see every month come from out of state and around 55 out of every 100 patients that we’re seeing are actually coming from Texas right now,” said Zack Gingrich-Gaylord, communications director of Trust Women.

Gingrich-Gaylord views the Supreme Court case on mifepristone as an attack on reproductive rights that could change the national landscape of abortion pill access.

“We’ve had over 20 years of research already on mifepristone that has shown it to be one of the safest and most effective medications,” Gingrich-Gaylord said. “What it is, it’s a political case that’s meant to end abortion access and this is just one of the first steps that they’re taking.”

President of Texas Right to Life, Dr. John Seago, is hoping for the reinstatement of certain procedures and guidelines when it comes to limiting access to mifepristone.

Walgreens and CVS have started rolling out mifepristone at pharmacies in select states where the abortion-inducing drug is legal.

One of the latest federally approved changes included allows mifepristone to be mailed out to patients, posing potential legal issues for pills sold to people living in Texas.

The Lone Star State’s ban on abortion is one of the strictest laws in the country. There are exceptions in cases of saving the mother’s life, which is up for debate what that criteria entails.

“No matter what form you use whether it’s a surgery or pills, an elective abortion takes the life of an innocent human being,” Seago said. “Even in states like Texas, we’re seeing that doctors from other states are mailing abortion pills directly to Texans so if the FDA puts more restrictions on these abortion pills or reinstate some of these guidelines, that would shut down some of the new kind of industry standards that we have seen pop up in the last two years.”

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