"The Supreme Court knows that siding with extreme Trump judges to restrict medication abortion will ignite the biggest political firestorm since Roe v. Wade was overturned," said one advocate.
An anticipated ruling on access to mifespristone, one of two medications used in a majority of abortions in the U.S., was delayed by the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday, giving the court until Friday to rule on the availability of the pill.
The court is considering a ruling handed down earlier this month by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, which would terminate Food and Drug Administration (FDA) policies adopted in 2016 to improve access to mifepristone. That year, the agency allowed patients to obtain the pill through the mail, retail pharmacies, and telemedicine prescriptions.
If allowed to take effect, the appeals court ruling would also change the FDA's approval of the drug to seven weeks of pregnancy instead of the current 10 weeks.
The appeals court ruling only partially blocked an early decision by right-wing U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, which would entirely suspend the FDA's approval of mifepristone, more than two decades after the drug became legally available.
The FDA and drug companies have warned that even allowing the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals' ruling to go forward would drastically cut access to mifepristone, which has been used by more than 5 million people in the U.S. since its approval.
Reproductive rights groups on Wednesday emphasized that "mifepristone remains available" until at least Friday, while warning that a ruling in favor of the lower courts' decisions will harm millions of people who rely on the medication.
\u201cAny day that we can provide abortions to our patients is a win. We do not know what the future holds, but as of today KEEP YOUR APPOINTMENTS. We will continue to provide Mifepristone in our clinics and Pills By Mail Program. \ud83d\udc9c\u201d— Whole Woman's Health (@Whole Woman's Health) 1681932813
"There is only one acceptable outcome here," said the Guttmacher Institute, a research and policy group.
\u201cLet's be clear: There is only one acceptable outcome here\u2014the Supreme Court must permanently strike down these attempts by lower courts to restrict or remove #mifepristone from the US market.\u201d— Guttmacher Institute (@Guttmacher Institute) 1681933489
Supreme Court observers were left to wonder Wednesday evening whether the ruling was delayed to give time to a liberal justice to write a dissent regarding a denial of a stay on the appeals court's decision, or for a conservative justice to dissent against a stay.
\u201cPessimistic take: The court denied a stay and a liberal is writing a dissent. \n\nOptimistic take: The court granted a stay and a conservative is writing a dissent. \n\nPanglossian take: The court is writing an opinion reversing the 5th Circuit and directing it to toss the case.\u201d— Mark Joseph Stern (@Mark Joseph Stern) 1681931818
NARAL Pro-Choice America President Mini Timmaraju expressed hope that "the anti-choice extremists on the court" will "throw in the towel and accept reality: the science, the facts, and the law are all on the side of legal and accessible medication abortion."
"As this case continues, safe and effective medication abortion with mifepristone in all 50 states remains in peril. The Supreme Court knows that siding with extreme Trump judges to restrict medication abortion will ignite the biggest political firestorm since Roe v. Wade was overturned," said Timmaraju. "The lower courts' decisions have been entirely baseless."