US Supreme Court pushes back decision on abortion pill

The Supreme Court of the United States, which was to rule on Wednesday on the legal puzzle surrounding the fate of the abortion pill in the country, postponed its long-awaited decision by two days, thus temporarily extending, until Friday, the full access to stamp.

Adding a chapter to this breathtaking saga, followed with anxiety by defenders and opponents of the right to abortion, Judge Samuel Alito indicated in a terse text that the suspension by the high court of the decision of a lower court on the pill was extended by 48 hours, until “11:59 p.m. Friday, April 21”.

“Dangerous and baseless case”

“The Court should put an end once and for all to this dangerous and baseless case,” immediately reacted the civil rights organization ACLU. “People in need of an abortion or treatment for a miscarriage should not sit around wondering if they will be able to access the care they need or if the Supreme Court is going to abruptly take that away from them,” she said. added.

Less than a year after overturning constitutional abortion protections, the conservative-majority high court was rushed by Joe Biden’s government after conflicting court rulings.

At stake, access throughout the territory to mifepristone. In combination with another drug, mifepristone is used for more than half of abortions in the United States. More than five million Americans have already taken it since its authorization by the American Medicines Agency (FDA) more than twenty years ago.

judge against judge

It all started when a federal judge in Texas known for his Christian faith and his ultra-conservative positions, appointed by Donald Trump, withdrew the marketing authorization for mifepristone on April 7 after it was seized by activists. anti-abortion. Despite the scientific consensus, he felt that it posed risks to women’s health.

An appeals court, seized by the federal government, then allowed the abortion pill to remain authorized, but by limiting the access facilities granted by the FDA over the years. His judgment amounted to prohibiting the mailing of mifepristone and returning to a use limited to seven weeks of pregnancy, instead of ten.

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The federal government then rushed to the Supreme Court. The latter temporarily maintained access to the abortion pill on Friday, suspending the decision of the court of appeal in order to have more time to examine the file.

Further complicating the matter, a federal judge sitting in the State of Washington, appointed by Barack Obama, had ruled immediately after the decision of his colleague in Texas that mifepristone was “safe and effective” and had prohibited the FDA from withdrawing its approval in 17 states and in the capital.

Vaccines?

The first suspension decided by the Supreme Court was valid until Wednesday just before midnight. On Tuesday, a coalition of anti-abortion doctors urged the temple of American law to leave the appeals court ruling in place.

The FDA and the pharmaceutical company Danco, which manufactures mifepristone, have “continuously put politics ahead of women’s health”, denounced these associations of gynecologists and pediatricians campaigning against abortion.

“Without a suspensive decision, mifepristone will cause even more physical complications, emotional trauma and even death in women”, argued the doctors, assuring that it would also harm “the plaintiffs by forcing them to perform abortions at the card violating their conscience”. President Biden had judged that the decision of the judge in Texas “exceeds (has) completely the limits”.

No longer available in fifteen states

The abortion pill is already no longer officially available in some fifteen American states that have recently banned abortion, even if roundabout ways have been developed. The impact of restrictions or a ban on this pill would therefore primarily concern states where abortion remains legal – for many Democrats.

Experts and bosses of the pharmaceutical sector fear that these legal actions will open the way to the questioning by the courts of other drugs.

“It is not unrealistic to say that if a judge can wake up in the morning and decide that he wants to withdraw a drug from the market (…), then a judge can do the same for vaccines or antidepressants that he don’t like,” said Josh Sharfstein, a former FDA official.

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