U.S. Supreme Court maintains abortion pill access but threatens to undermine access to medical care for all patients

June 13, 2024

Noah Parrish, Communications Director
[email protected]

Saint Paul, Minn.—

In a unanimous ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court today protected access to mifepristone, one of the two pills used in medication abortion. Mifepristone was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) more than 20 years ago and is used in more than 60% of all abortions in the United States. The Court found that the providers in this case lacked standing to bring their claim.

While the ruling maintains the status quo for mifepristone access, it contains troubling language suggesting that doctors with religious objections to any medical treatment could potentially opt out, even if it could result in death or severe harm to a patient and even where there are no alternative providers to ensure care. The Court will likely provide more clarity on this issue in upcoming rulings regarding the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA), Moyle v. United States and Idaho v. United States.

Jess Braverman, legal director at Gender Justice, issued the following statement:

“Today’s ruling reaffirms what we already know: medication abortion is safe, effective, and essential healthcare. It is shocking that this baseless case was so successful in the lower courts, but thankfully, the Supreme Court rejected this transparent attempt by the anti-abortion movement to impose their personal religious views on the entire medical establishment and cause grave harm to people in need of abortion care.

“Unfortunately, in the process of resolving this case, the Court used overly broad language that threatens access to medical care for all patients across the country, suggesting that doctors with religious objections to any care may allow any patient to die rather than provide them with treatment. This is far more extreme than what any statutory religious exemption currently allows for, and we will be keeping an eye on additional rulings this term to fully understand the Court’s position and its implications.

“Access to critical, safe, and effective medication should be a universal right. Pregnant individuals deserve autonomy over their healthcare decisions, including the option of medication abortion.”

The Supreme Court’s decision dismissed the efforts of anti-abortion activists in the case Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine v. FDA to restrict mifepristone access. This medication, alongside misoprostol, constitutes the primary method for over 60% of U.S. abortions and plays a vital role in reproductive healthcare beyond abortion, including miscarriage management and treating reproductive health conditions. As reliance on medication abortion surges nationwide, with over three in five abortion patients opting for this method, the Supreme Court’s decision maintains access to a fundamental aspect of reproductive healthcare.

Gender Justice experts are available for interviews to discuss the ruling. Please reach out to the contact listed above if interested.


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