US Supreme Court to Hear Abortion Pill Lawsuit

As we noted in a previous blog, the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AAPLOG), of which ProLife Doc Dr. William Lile is a life member, filed a lawsuit last year challenging specific provisions of the FDA’s rules regarding the accessibility of the abortion pill, mifepristone, in the United States. 

The details of the lawsuit are rather complicated and are explained in greater detail in the previous blog. However, the fundamental issue in the case is that AAPLOG believes that the FDA violated its own rules when issuing regulations on the availability of abortion pills. In recent years, the FDA vastly expanded the availability of the abortion pill and loosened its regulations governing how it may be distributed. The lawsuit alleges that the FDA passed its rules in direct contravention of its statutory duty to ensure that drugs are “safe and effective” for their intended use and that the regulations under which drugs are prescribed and distributed also meet the “safe and effective” standard. 

In particular, AAPLOG takes issue with the fact that the FDA has broadly relaxed regulations on the distribution of the abortion pill in a way that puts women who take the pill regimen at greater risk of harm. At one time, the FDA required that the drug be administered only after an in-person exam and in a clinical setting. Later, the FDA relaxed these provisions, removing the in-person exam requirement, allowing non-physicians to prescribe the medication, and allowing the pill to be distributed by mail, meaning that women who take the pill need never set foot in a doctor’s office. The FDA also altered the gestational age limit for taking the two-pill regimen, as well as altering the prescription dosages. 

While the federal district court that initially took the case issued an injunction in favor of the claims made by AAPLOG, the case has bounced a bit up and down the appellate courts. In August, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled that the abortion pill could remain on the market under the 2016 usage conditions (that is, under rules that were more restrictive than recent FDA rules relaxing the requirements for availability and distribution). The FDA then sought review in the Supreme Court, and the Supreme Court, in December, decided to take the case.

As matters stand now, oral argument in the case will likely be heard this spring, with a decision likely to come out in June. While many believe that this is another “Roe v. Wade” moment, it should be remembered that this case is not about the legality of abortion but about whether the FDA is fulfilling its statutory duty to regulate drugs responsibly. Nonetheless, it is a critical case from a pro-life perspective.


Helping to Encourage Illegal Abortions

The FDA’s recent rules seem more political than prudent, as the new regulations came just in time to give pro-abortion advocates a means to skirt state laws that restrict abortion in the wake of Dobbs, the case that overturned Roe v. Wade. When abortion pills can be sent through the mail, they cannot be tracked. Indeed, recent reports indicate that pro-abortion workers are willingly prescribing the drug to women who are not even pregnant, ostensibly under the guise that women should have these pills “on hand” if they find themselves with an unplanned pregnancy. 

However, this also means that women who can obtain the pills are not using them all and can transfer them to anyone else who wants them. This opens the door – very widely – for abusers and traffickers to get hold of these pills, where they can then force them on unwilling victims without any trace or record. 

The abortion story is a sordid one, and not only because of the tragic killing of millions of preborn babies. The women who are getting abortions are not happy young women skipping through life. Women with unplanned or unwanted pregnancies are truly troubled, and they are being neglected, misinformed, isolated, mistreated, minimized, silenced, and ignored. Abortion, and the abortion pill in particular, is helping to keep things that way.


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