Speed Reads

Propping up the pill

Supreme Court temporarily preserves abortion pill access

The Supreme Court on Friday upheld nationwide access to the abortion pill mifepristone — at least for the time being. 

In its first major weigh-in since overturning Roe v. Wade, the court blocked a decision by Texas U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk that would have overturned the FDA's approval of the drug. The Supreme Court issued a brief emergency action against Kacsmaryk's ruling, and did not specify why they blocked his decision. However, the case is expected to be litigated for months, and it is likely that the justices upheld the status quo simply to give themselves time to consider their next steps.

The decision by the Supreme Court means that mifepristone will remain on the market for the foreseeable future, and that's a significant victory for the Biden administration, which has fought to codify abortion rights since Roe v. Wade was overturned. The court's ruling means that mifepristone will also remain available by mail, and women can still take it at home up to 10 weeks into a pregnancy, NBC News reported. 

In a statement, President Biden praised the court's decision, saying Kacsmaryk's ruling "undermined the FDA's medical judgment and put women's health at risk."

The Supreme Court has a 6-3 conservative majority, and two conservative justices, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, issued dissenting opinions. 

While Thomas did not explain his reasoning, Alito claimed that the public would not have been harmed if the court had allowed Kacsmaryk's ruling to stand. "It would simply restore the circumstances that existed (and that the government defended) from 2000 to 2016 under three presidential administrations," Alito wrote. He added that letting Kacsmaryk's ruling take effect "would not express any view on the merits of the question whether the FDA acted lawfully in any of its actions regarding mifepristone."