Supreme Court Tosses Mifepristone Challenge from Extremist TX-based Lower Court

Mifepristone packaging
Justices’ Unanimous Opinion Paves Way for Future Abortion Wins

The U.S. Supreme Court rejected a bid on June 13 to restrict access to mifepristone, an abortion pill. This decision preserves access to the medication nationwide, available by mail, as the crucial first pill taken in a two-drug regimen with misoprostol, accounting for half of all medical abortions in the country. The Supreme Court pleasantly surprised many this week, especially with one of convicted felon, former President Trump’s picks for the highest court, Justice Kavanaugh, writing the opinion. As one of the first summer rulings, Kavanaugh threw out the challenge from the “Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine” (a right-wing organization cooked up to push for a national backdoor ban on medication abortion), who sued the Food and Drug Administration. The justices found that the group lacked the legal right to sue over the Food and Drug Administration's approval of mifepristone and the FDA's subsequent actions to ease restrictions on getting it.

Progress Texas Advocacy Manager Reagan Stone said upon the ruling, “This case tested the conservative majority court after it overruled Roe in 2022, which stripped away a person’s basic freedom, limiting family planning, and making those who can become pregnant second class citizens. This will be an important step on the way to the ballot box in November to gaining our freedoms back from religious extremists.” In this most recent decision, Kavanaugh's opinion explained, “[The Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine] are pro-life, oppose elective abortion, and have sincere legal, moral, ideological, and policy objections to mifepristone being prescribed and used by others.” He uncharacteristically continued, “Because plaintiffs do not prescribe or use mifepristone, plaintiffs are unregulated parties who seek to challenge FDA’s regulation of others.” In layman's terms, the doctors who sued don’t have to take or prescribe the drug and medical decisions and research aren't supposed to be decided in the courts.

Protesters rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court on March 26, 2024, as justices hear oral arguments over access to mifepristone, Josh Morgan/USA TODAY

Is it safe to be pregnant in Texas?

While the nation’s highest court noted the group did not have a standing to challenge the Food and Drug Administration’s scientific decision making process, Kavanaugh did suggest other avenues the plaintiffs could take. “The plaintiffs may present their concerns and objections to the President and FDA in the regulatory process, or to Congress and the President in the legislative process.” So while Justice Kavanaugh noted the anti-abortion doctors were at the wrong forum for addressing their concerns, he also didn’t correctly note that mostly male-led legislatures and unscientific bodies should stay out of the business of what will affect a majority of women.

After the decision, as expected, extremists spewed lies surrounding the safe medication—safer than Tylenol— available for more than 20 years across the country and in nearly 100 countries around the world, even China as early as 1988. With the courts now backing down from medical questions, we must work together to ensure these personal decisions go back to patients and their doctors, especially in places like Texas where there is a near total abortion ban in place — the same ban which has put Amanda Zurawski and countless pregnant Texans’ lives in jeopardy. 

President of the Texas Medical Board, Sherif Z. Zaafran, M.D., AP NEWS

More reproductive freedom news in Texas

This week, after a petition initiative in Amarillo was sent to city leaders asking them to ban abortion related travel, the Amarillo City Council rejected the measure, noting the city could not enforce nor had the right to restrict interstate travel. We have repeatedly seen conservative extremists pose further restrictions on people in our state, limiting their freedom. If the courts and local controls are failing to meet Constitutional requirements and the standards of consideration, we ask, when will the Texas Medical Board take its role in making sound medical judgements on the matter? Progress Texas testified at the latest hearing in May, along with all doctors on the call asking the state’s authority on medicine to clear the way for exemptions that could save lives of those with complicated pregnancies. The TMB’s exemptions to abortion rules are expected to be decided later this month. You still have the opportunity to write the TMB up to their meeting on June 20. 

What’s Next:

You’re in good company! Abortion rights advocates Wendy Davis, Michelle Vallejo, and Amanda Zurawski share why abortion is on the ballot in Progress Texas’ latest Happy Hour Podcast

What’s the latest right wing plan attacking your freedom? Government tracking of pregnant people.

Help “Roevolution” resources reach potential voters across the Lone Star State. Donate to Progress Texas’ 14th Anniversary campaign.