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U.S. Supreme Court to consider limits on abortion medication mifepristone

Boxes of the drug mifepristone sit on a shelf at the West Alabama Women's Center in Tuscaloosa, Ala., March 16, 2022. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra on Sunday, April 9, 2023, stressed that women for now continue to have access to the abortion medication mifepristone after the Texas judge stayed his ruling for a week so federal authorities could file a challenge. The drug was approved by the FDA in 2000.
Allen G. Breed
/
AP
Boxes of the drug mifepristone sit on a shelf at the West Alabama Women's Center in Tuscaloosa, Ala., March 16, 2022. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra on Sunday, April 9, 2023, stressed that women for now continue to have access to the abortion medication mifepristone after the Texas judge stayed his ruling for a week so federal authorities could file a challenge. The drug was approved by the FDA in 2000.

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear a case over access to the abortion medication mifepristone after a Texas-based federal judge restricted availability earlier this year, the high court announced Wednesday.

Mifepristone is a drug used to self-manage abortions and miscarriages. It was approved by the Federal Drug Administration more than 20 years ago but Amarillo-based federal District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, a Trump appointee known in part for a history of taking anti-abortion positions, revoked that approval earlier this year.

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals later said the drug would remain available, but with restrictions that include use for up to seven weeks of pregnancy instead of the 10-week limit imposed when the FDA expanded the timeframe in 2016. The appeals court also limited the drug’s availability via mail.

The appellate court’s decision has been on hold while the case plays out.

The Center for Reproductive Rights said the Supreme Court made the right decision to review the issue, but cautioned the justices could gut access to abortion even further after its decision last year to reverse the landmark Roe v. Wade decision, which granted access to abortion for decades.

“In the wake of the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade, abortion via medication that can be prescribed in a telehealth visit and delivered to the privacy of one’s home has been critical,” Nancy Northup, the president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a statement. “Abortion pills have been used safely in the U.S. for more than 20 years, and they are more important than ever in this post-Roe landscape. That is precisely why the anti-abortion movement is attacking them.”

The Supreme Court’s decision to hear the case comes days after a Texas woman was forced to leave the state to have an abortion. Kate Cox was originally granted a temporary restraining order by a Travis County court that allowed her to have the procedure after learning her fetus was diagnosed with a condition that is almost always fatal. She was also warned by doctors that continuing the pregnancy to delivery could have a severe impact on her health and ability to carry future pregnancies.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton appealed the ruling and the Texas Supreme Court later vacated that restraining order.

Copyright 2023 KERA. To see more, visit KERA.

Julián Aguilar | The Texas Newsroom