The Supreme Court of USA decided this Friday to block the restrictions on abortion pill mifepristone that an appeals court had ordered last week.
The decision means keeping unchanged the “status quo” on access to medication, at least while the appeals court decides on the legality of the approval US regulators gave the drug more than 20 years ago.
The appeals court in question – that of the Fifth Circuit, which includes the states of Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi – approved restricting access to mifepristone while evaluating the decision of a Texas judge to completely prohibit access to the pill, which it is used in more than half of the abortions in the country.
The ruling marks the first time the Supreme Court has ruled on an abortion case after its controversial decision last summer to remove the constitutional protection it had enjoyed since the 1970s, sparking an avalanche of restrictions in conservative-ruled states.
In a message celebrating the Supreme Court’s decision, US President Joe Biden stressed that “Mifepristone remains available and is approved for safe and effective use as we continue our battle in court.”
The president assured that his government will continue to defend the approval of mifepristone by regulators, and declared that it will continue “fighting politically motivated attacks on women’s health.”
The highest judicial body in the country decided this Friday to block for the moment a series of restrictions that the court of appeals for the Fifth Circuit had ordered last week, such as prohibiting the pill from being prescribed after seven weeks of pregnancy or being sent by mail .
Two of the most conservative justices on the court, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, disagreed with the decision.
The ruling returns the case to the appeals court, which has set the date for the start of oral arguments for May 17.
At the center of the legal dispute is the health authorization that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave mifepristone 23 years ago.
Texas federal judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, nominated by former President Donald Trump (2017-2021), ordered on April 8 to withdraw the health authorization for the abortion pill.
The order was appealed by the Government of Joe Biden and a Louisiana appeals court stipulated that the drug was only available until the first seven weeks of pregnancy, three less than previously, and that it must be picked up in person, among other restrictions.
But the Department of Justice raised the case to the Supreme Court alleging that the restriction would have serious consequences for women and for the pharmaceutical industry, for which the high court has had to intervene.
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