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The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday received a request from the Trump administration to restore restrictions on patients seeking a drug used to terminate an early pregnancy.
The decision, released in disagreement by the court’s liberal judge, restored the requirement for patients to self-medicate mifepristone. Three lower courts have blocked the Food and Drug Administration’s own acceptance requirements for mifepristone during the coronavirus outbreak, citing the risk of COVID-19 infection. At a doctor’s office or a hospital
This was the first abortion-related decision since being sworn in for Judge Amy Coney Barrett last year, whose Supreme Court throne appearance sparked a conservative majority. Abortion rights advocates fear what a conservative majority can do to reduce legal protections for abortion.
Julia Kaye, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union Reproductive Freedom Project, called the verdict “chilling” and another “unnecessary” that was even more dangerous to people during this harsh winter. “
She added that black people, such as black and Latino X patients, are particularly vulnerable to the health risks posed by COVID-19. Prescribing them to their doctor’s office in person for the drug threatens their health and The lives of those patients, she said.
An anti-abortion group spokeswoman, Susan B. Anthony List, called the decision an “unfortunate move”. “Big Victory” The organization believes that supporters of abortion rights. “Trying to take advantage of the COVID-19 outbreak to drive mail abortion, promoting home-made abortion increases the risk of serious complications.”
The ACLU sued the federal government to challenge the FDA rules.Their case was limited and focused only on ending that requirement during the outbreak.
Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for a 5-4 majority in the judgment, said the court did not face that decision.
But the judge was tasked to weigh in on whether the lower court ordered the FDA to add requirements for self-storage of mifepristone because of the risk posed by the outbreak, he said.
“I don’t see there is enough basis here for the district court to force the FDA to modify the medical abortion system,” Roberts said.
Mifepristone was approved by the FDA 20 years ago for medical abortions in early pregnancies. It is also used to help manage miscarriages for some women trying to avoid surgery.
Medical abortion involves taking two prescription drugs, mifepristone and misoprostol, which together cause a similar miscarriage.
Telemedicine is the only way many women living in remote areas of the United States have access to abortion pills. Few states have only one clinic that offers abortion, forcing patients to drive hundreds of miles to get them.
But the Guttmacher Institute, which supports the right to abortion, said 18 states ban doctors remotely prescribing abortion pills, adding to the barriers to patients getting them.
Judge Sonia Sotomayor, in her disagreement, wrote that “The law of this country has long separated abortion for the treatment that is more difficult than other medical procedures that carry the same or greater risk.”
FDA rules “Impose unnecessary, unreasonable and unfair burdens on women who want to exercise their right of choice,” she wrote. These unstable times “
Supporters of abortion rights are hoping that President-elect Joe Biden’s administration can meet the FDA’s need for self-medication.
Kaye and the ACLU said, “The Biden-Harris administration must correct this on the first day and uphold its commitment to support both evidence-based regulation and freedom of reproduction.”