On Tuesday, the Supreme Court lifted a nationwide injunction that has prevented the Trump administration from enforcing a rule to regulate a pill commonly used in medication abortions, allowing the rule to be enforced, according to NBC News.
Since 2000, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has said mifepristone (Mifeprex) must be given to patients by medical professionals in clinics, hospitals, or doctors’ offices.
Mifepristone is typically used during the first 10 weeks of pregnancy.
Patients must sign a consent form acknowledging that they have been counseled about the drug’s potential risks. And then they can take the pill any time after they received it and do not have to swallow it in the presence of the medical professional.
A team of doctors at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists sued to relax the restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic.
They said many medical centers and clinics have closed or restricted appointments, and requiring a pregnant woman to make an in-person visit could increase their risk of catching COVID-19 infection.
According to NBC News, U.S. District Judge Theodore Chuang of Maryland agreed and ruled in July that keeping the FDA rule during the pandemic would “place a substantial obstacle in the path of women seeking a medication abortion and that may delay or preclude a medication abortion and thus may necessitate a more invasive procedure.” Instead, he said the pills could be sent via mail.
The judge’s order stopped enforcement of the FDA rule, but the Supreme Court’s stay allows the rule to be enforced, per NBC News.
Chief Justice John Roberts said it was not a case about whether the rule imposed an undue burden on a woman’s right to seek an abortion. Rather, he said it was about a lower court’s authority to block rules during the pandemic.
“The courts owe significant deference to the politically accountable branches” with the background to assess public health,” he said.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor said most women seeking an abortion during the first 10 weeks of pregnancy often rely on mifepristone at issue.
She said, “The FDA’s policy imposes an unnecessary, unjustifiable, irrational, and undue burden on a women seeking abortion during the current pandemic.” The news article was published on NBC News.