Supreme Court Rejects Lawsuit Challenging FDA Approach to Regulating Mifepristone


(WASHINGTON, DC) — The Supreme Court has rejected a lawsuit challenging the Food and Drug Administration’s approach to regulating the abortion pill mifepristone with a ruling that will continue to allow the pills to be mailed to patients without an in-person doctor’s visit.

The appeal was filed by anti-abortion doctors who said their practices have been affected because they must treat women who had complications from the drug.

The FDA and outside medical groups have stressed that mifepristone is safe. The doctors have faced scrutiny over whether they have been harmed in a way that gives them standing to sue.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote the opinion for a unanimous court. The court ruled that the doctors and anti-abortion groups that had challenged access to the drug did not have standing to sue. Though technical, the court’s reasoning is important because it might encourage other mifepristone challenges in the future.

“We recognize that many citizens, including the plaintiff doctors here, have sincere concerns about and objections to others using mifepristone and obtaining abortions,” Kavanaugh wrote. “But citizens and doctors do not have standing to sue simply because others are allowed to engage in certain activities – at least without the plaintiffs demonstrating how they would be injured by the government’s alleged under-regulation of others.”

More than 6 million people have used mifepristone since 2000. Mifepristone blocks the hormone progesterone and primes the uterus to respond to the contraction-causing effect of a second drug, misoprostol. The two-drug regimen has been used to end a pregnancy through 10 weeks gestation.

Health care providers have said that if mifepristone is no longer available or is too hard to obtain, they would switch to using only misoprostol, which is somewhat less effective in ending pregnancies.