U.S. Supreme Court delays decision on abortion pill case

As justices consider overturning the FDA's 23-year-old approval of mifepristone, Washington state continues to protect access to the drug.

Washington State’s stockpile of mifepristone tablets.

Washington State’s stockpile of mifepristone tablets. (Courtesy of WADOC)

The U.S. Supreme Court has decided the abortion pill mifepristone will continue to be widely available, at least through Friday, as it continues to consider whether proposed new restrictions on the drug should take effect while a legal challenge continues.

Meanwhile in Washington, Gov. Jay Inslee announced on April 4 that the state was stockpiling mifepristone to ensure that people who need an abortion will still have access to the pills no matter what the courts decide in this case. Washington state has purchased 30,000 doses of the abortion medication – an estimated three-year supply, according to Inslee’s office.

The Supreme Court is fast-tracking its decision on a case from Texas that seeks to overturn the Food and Drug Administration’s 2000 approval of the drug. Justice Samuel Alito initially promised a decision by Wednesday night, but extended the deadline until Friday in a midday announcement on Wednesday.

The Biden administration and the drug’s maker, Danco Laboratories, have both asked the Supreme Court to reject the limits proposed in the Texas case, at least as that case continues to make its way through the court system.

Rulings in the two federal lawsuits – the one in Texas and another in Washington – were both released on Friday, April 7, potentially setting up the abortion debate for another showdown in the U.S. Supreme Court.

In the second case, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson and his staff are suing the FDA to prevent the federal agency from implementing any new restrictions on the abortion pill in 16 states and the District of Columbia. The Washington ruling would expand access to mifepristone.

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