Attorney General Merrick Garland reported that the Department of Justice (DOJ) will go to the Supreme Court seeking "emergency relief" to challenge recently imposed restrictions on access to and use of the abortion pill mifepristone:
We will be seeking emergency relief from the Supreme Court to defend the FDA’s scientific judgment and protect Americans’ access to safe and effective reproductive care.
Garland's announcement comes after the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a Texas judge's order suspending the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) approval of the abortion drug.
In the new statement, the prosecutor indicated that the DOJ will ask the Supreme Court to intervene now in the dispute over how the FDA addresses the use of the pill:
The Justice Department strongly disagrees with the Fifth Circuit’s decision in Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine v. FDA to deny in part our request for a stay pending appeal.
A court war over the use of the abortion pill
A Texas federal judge's ruling has sparked a court war over the use of mifepristone. Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk suspended the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) approval of the pill which had been in effect since 2000. This ruling forced the sale of the drug to be halted throughout the country.
Subsequently, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals blocked Judge Kacsmaryk's ruling. With this decision, the abortion pill remained on the market with some restrictions: it can only be purchased if the patient physically attended a consultation with a physician. Therefore, the pill may not currently be distributed via mail.
On the other hand, after Kacsmaryk's ruling, a Washington state court upheld a lawsuit filed by 17 Democratic prosecutors demanding guaranteed access to the drug. Judge Thomas O. Rice ordered the FDA to "maintain the status quo" and allow access to the pill in the jurisdictions that filed the lawsuit.
Now, after Garland's announcement, it will be up to the Supreme Court to decide how the FDA will address the use of the pill.
Biden-Harris administration committed to "ensuring access to mifepristone"
The White House weighed in and issued a statement in which President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris confirmed their commitment to "reproductive rights."
The statement says the two are "focused on ensuring access to mifepristone" and protecting the health of Americans:
If this decision stands, it will put women’s health at risk and undermine FDA’s ability to ensure patients have access to safe and effective medications when they need them.