The Supreme Court scrutinizes the conditions of access to the abortion pill

(Washington) The American Supreme Court with a conservative majority finds itself again on Tuesday at the heart of the debate on the right to abortion, called upon to rule on the conditions of access to the pill used in the majority of abortions in the United States.

Since it canceled the federal guarantee of this right in June 2022, states have complete freedom to legislate in this area and around twenty have banned abortion (voluntary termination of pregnancy), whether carried out by medication or surgical, or have strictly restricted this right.

Several dozen pro- and anti-abortion demonstrators gathered Tuesday morning in front of the Supreme Court. The former held up signs calling for access to the abortion pill in all 50 states of the country, the latter asserting that it presented risks to women’s health.

An ultraconservative appeals court last year reinstated several of the restrictions on access to a pill used for medical abortion, mifepristone, lifted by the United States Medicines Agency (FDA) since 2016.

Citing potential risks that have been ruled out by scientific consensus, this decision would reduce the limit of ten weeks of pregnancy to seven, prohibit the sending of tablets by post and would once again make prescription exclusively by a doctor compulsory.

The administration of Democratic President Joe Biden and the manufacturer of mifepristone, the Danco laboratory, are asking the nine judges of the Supreme Court to overturn this decision, currently suspended.



They notably contest the “interest in acting”, a condition for taking legal action, of the plaintiffs, namely associations of doctors or practitioners hostile to abortion who do not prescribe or use this pill.

They have “not identified among their thousands of members even a single doctor who was forced to perform an abortion during the decades during which mifepristone was on the market”, underlines in its written arguments the legal advisor to the Biden administration, Elizabeth Prelogar.

The plaintiffs name only seven doctors, for whom “the FDA’s changes to the conditions of use could marginally increase the risk” of having to treat a woman suffering from complications following the absorption of mifepristone, notes- She.

The Biden administration and the laboratory also claim that the FDA followed legal procedures and that no scientific evidence demonstrates an increased risk to patients.

“Scientific evidence”

The plaintiffs’ lawyers, on the contrary, denounce “arbitrary” relaxations, believing that the FDA should, before “removing crucial precautions”, generally assess the possible additional risks to women’s health which could result.

As a result, these practitioners find themselves faced with the risk of having to treat possible complications due to mifepristone “although this type of participation in a chosen abortion harms their conscience and harms them in other respects”, they assure. .

Nearly two-thirds of abortions (63%) in the United States in 2023 were performed medically, the Guttmacher Institute, a specialized research center, said last week.

When the Supreme Court rules, “it will either have to decide whether to ignore the FDA by reinstating unnecessary barriers to access to mifepristone or to respect the scientific evidence of its safety and effectiveness,” says the institute, which defends the right to abortion.

The Court’s decision is expected by June 30.

The Biden administration “will continue to support the FDA’s validation and classification of mifepristone as safe and effective and we will continue to fight unprecedented attacks on women’s freedom to make their own decisions about their health.” White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre said Monday.

Joe Biden has made the protection of the right to abortion a focus of his campaign for the November presidential election against his Republican predecessor Donald Trump, whose appointments to the Supreme Court resulted in the reversal of jurisprudence in June 2022.


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