SCOTUS Issues Temporary Stay of Texas Abortion Pill Ruling

AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis

It’s been a rollercoaster of a week for the FDA, the abortion lobby, and pro-life advocates. On Friday, April 7, a U.S. District Court judge in Texas stripped the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval of mifepristone, the abortion pill primarily used in chemical abortions.


Our Deputy Managing Editor Susie Moore reported:

Also on Friday, Judge Thomas Rice, who sits on the Eastern District of the U.S. District Court in Washington (state), issued a dueling opinion ruling that mifepristone is safe and effective and ordering the FDA to maintain the “status quo” in the states that brought the lawsuit to protect the medication’s approval.

The Texas ruling issued a nationwide injunction, which was stayed for seven days to allow time for an appeal — which the Justice Department and the drug’s manufacturer, Danco Laboratories, promptly filed that evening.

On Wednesday, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled (in response to the appeal of the Texas ruling) that the drug could remain in use for now, but narrowed the scope of that use, reducing the time period in which it could be taken (back to the pre-2016 seven weeks) and prohibiting its being dispensed by mail.

The Biden administration and its Department of Justice expressed outrage over the Texas judge’s ruling and lodged its intention to appeal the decision:

Biden’s Justice Department is seeking a stay on the entire injunction issued by the Texas judge.

“The Justice Department strongly disagrees with the Fifth Circuit’s decision in Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine v. FDA to deny in part our request for a stay pending appeal,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement. “We will be seeking emergency relief from the Supreme Court to defend the FDA’s scientific judgment and protect Americans’ access to safe and effective reproductive care.”


According to the AP, on Friday, April 14, the United States Supreme Court granted the application of the Biden DOJ and mifepristone manufacturer Danco Laboratories for an administrative stay of the Texas ruling.

In an order signed by Justice Samuel Alito, the court asked both sides to weigh in by Tuesday over whether lower court rulings restricting the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the drug, mifepristone, should be allowed to take effect while the case works its way through federal courts.

The order expires late Wednesday, suggesting the court will decide that issue by then.

The justices are being asked at this point only to determine what parts of an April 7 ruling by U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk in Texas, as modified by an appellate ruling Wednesday, can be in force while the case continues.

With the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health decision overturning Roe v. Wade, abortion advocates have been ramping up their access to the drug in order to assist women seeking abortions in states where access to surgical abortions has been restricted. In turn, the pro-life movement has been working with Republican lawmakers in particular states to see laws passed that limit the use and access to the abortion pill to only medical practitioners and in the controlled environment of a medical office, rather than being able to obtain the pills through the mail. According to Heartbeat International, at least 50 percent of abortions in the United States are executed through the use of the abortion pill. After last Friday’s ruling, Governor Gavin Newsom moved to stockpile abortion pills. So, the court’s ruling on lawsuits brought by Danco Laboratories, The DOJ, and abortion activists in West Virginia and North Carolina could be the hill on which the practice of abortion will stand or die.


The Justice Department and Danco both warned of “regulatory chaos” and harm to women if the high court doesn’t block the lower-court rulings that had the effect of tightening FDA rules under which the drug, mifepristone, can be prescribed and dispensed.

The new limits would have taken effect Saturday if the court hadn’t acted.

“This application concerns unprecedented lower court orders countermanding FDA’s scientific judgment and unleashing regulatory chaos by suspending the existing FDA-approved conditions of use for mifepristone,” Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar, the Biden administration’s top Supreme Court lawyer, wrote Friday, less than two days after the appellate ruling.

The Biden administration and Danco now want a more lasting order that would keep the current rules in place as long as the legal fight over mifepristone continues. As a fallback, they asked the court to take up the issue, hear arguments and decide by early summer a legal challenge to mifepristone that anti-abortion doctors and medical organizations filed last year.

According to the AP, this stay by the Supreme Court is not indicative of how the justices will ultimately rule on the merits.


Join the conversation as a VIP Member

Trending on RedState Videos