(Washington) The Supreme Court of the United States must rule on Wednesday on an abortion pill widely used in the country, which finds itself at the heart of a legal puzzle since a judge caused confusion by wanting to suspend its validity .
Less than a year after blasting federal abortion rights, the conservative-majority high court has been rushed by Joe Biden’s government after conflicting court rulings.
“ A judicial ping-pong ” with an uncertain outcome, “ which affects access to a safe, effective and long-approved drug and causes chaos and confusion”, denounced Carrie Flaxman of the family planning organization on Tuesday. Planned Parenthood.
This latest twist in the conservative assault on abortion rights is about nationwide access to mifepristone.
In combination with another drug, mifepristone is used for more than half of abortions in the United States. More than five million American women have already taken it since its authorization by the United States Medicines Agency (FDA) more than 20 years ago.
It all started when a federal judge in Texas, seized by anti-abortion activists, withdrew the marketing authorization for mifepristone on April 7. Despite the scientific consensus, he felt that it posed health risks to women.
An appeals court, seized by the federal government, then allowed the abortion pill to remain authorized, but by limiting the access facilities granted by the FDA over the years.
His judgment thus amounted in particular to prohibiting the sending of mifepristone by post and to returning to a use limited to seven weeks of pregnancy, instead of ten.
The federal government then rushed to the Supreme Court. The latter temporarily maintained access to the abortion pill on Friday, suspending the decision of the court of appeal in order to have more time to examine the file.
The suspension lasts until Wednesday just before midnight, the Supreme Court said. The parties had until Tuesday noon to present their arguments.
In the document it submitted, a coalition of anti-abortion doctors urged the temple of American law to leave the appeals court ruling in place.
The FDA and the pharmaceutical company Danco, which manufactures mifepristone, have “shamelessly flouted the law and regulations in force […] and have continually put politics ahead of women’s health”, denounced these associations of gynecologists and pediatricians. activist against abortion.
“Without a suspensive decision, mifepristone will cause even more physical complications, emotional trauma and even death in women,” argued the doctors. “It will also harm plaintiffs by forcing them to perform à la carte abortions that violate their conscience,” they added.
President Biden judged that the judge’s decision in Texas “completely exceeded the bounds”. He said he was determined to “fight” it, calling it an “unprecedented attempt to deprive women of fundamental freedoms”.
The abortion pill is no longer officially available in some fifteen American states that have recently banned abortion, even if roundabout routes have been developed. The impact of restricting or banning this pill would therefore primarily affect states where abortion remains legal — for many Democrats.
Many pharmaceutical experts and bosses fear that these lawsuits could pave the way for other drugs to be challenged by courts.
“It is not unrealistic to say that if a judge can wake up in the morning and decide that he wants to withdraw a drug from the market […], then a judge can do the same for vaccines or antidepressants that he don’t like,” said Josh Sharfstein, a former FDA official.