Skip to main content

Supreme Court Hears Oral Arguments in Abortion Pill Case After FDA Removed Safeguards

Share This article

The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments Tuesday about whether the U.S. Food and Drug Administration should restore safety regulations on mifepristone, the so-called abortion pill, specifically three mandatory in-person doctor visits. When the agency removed those requirements in 2016 and 2021, the pills became widely available by mail.  

Hundreds of demonstrators gathered in front of the U.S. Supreme Court building, eager to make their voices heard. Some pro-abortion protestors like Victoria Lorde told CBN News they hope the justices will rule against those who want to limit access to the abortion pill.

"Their argument that, 'Oh, it's dangerous for the woman' is absolutely incorrect scientifically," she claimed.  

On the other hand, pro-life demonstrators, like Elizabeth Gillette, who had a chemical abortion and regrets it, told CBN News mifepristone is indeed dangerous and is now too widely available, therefore the court should curtail its availability.

"The clinic had told me, they pressured me, to have a chemical abortion and said that it would be easier than surgical abortion. But that wasn't true. That was a lie," she said. 

The case comes two years after the court ruled the Constitution does not guarantee a federal right to abortion, leaving the issue to the individual states and their legislatures. 

Inside the courthouse, the FDA argued removing each individual requirement to see a doctor in person wasn't dangerous. However, Justice Samuel Alito questioned the wisdom of removing all three safeguards.

"Isn't that obvious that three things that may be innocuous or not excessively dangerous if engaged in by themselves may become very dangerous when they're all done together? And why shouldn't the FDA have addressed that," he said. 

Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Erin Hawley, who argued on behalf of the pro-life medical association called Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine, pointed out that the FDA itself admitted mifepristone harms a significant number of women. 

"The FDA concedes between 2.9 and 4.6 percent of women will end up in the emergency room and the FDA acknowledges that women are even more likely to need surgical intervention and other medical care without an in-person visit," Hawley said.

***Please sign up for CBN Newsletters and download the CBN News app to ensure you keep receiving the latest news.***

Even so, Justice Sonia Sotomayor appeared to give the FDA more weight when it comes to certain decisions. 

"The reality is even if there is some increase in emergency room visits," she said, "The question of when that rises to a sufficient safety risk is up to the FDA, correct?" 

Hawley countered that argument by saying the FDA behaved recklessly by removing safeguards, which can put her client doctors in the position of unwillingly taking part in botched abortions.

"FDA's outsourcing of abortion harm to responding doctors forces them to choose between helping a woman with a life-threatening condition and violating their conscience," Hawley said. 

As to the doctors' conscience concerns, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson questioned whether that would warrant limiting the availability of mifepristone.

"Do we have to have to also entertain your argument that no one else in the world should have this drug, or no one else in America should have this drug," she said, "in order to protect your clients?"

While the justices did seem to consider safety issues associated with mifepristone, many comments focused on whether the pro-life doctors had standing, which is a legal term meaning having enough legal cause to bring the case.  

Some justices said pro-life doctors who don't want to treat patients who are suffering from complications from mifepristone can simply step aside and let another doctor, one who isn't opposed to abortion, treat the patient. However, the doctors say it isn't that simple. For example, they say in an emergency situation there isn't time to find another doctor. Also, they said there are time when they are unaware they're dealing with a patient suffering from a mifepristone complication until they are already deeply involved in the case and it's not feasible to walk away at that point. 

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to announce its decision in June. 

Download the CBN News app for Free!


Share This article

About The Author