Justice Alito temporarily blocks court ruling revoking abortion drug

Justice Alito temporarily blocks court ruling revoking abortion drug
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito in 2017, Wikimedia Commons
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Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito has issued an administrative stayin FDA v. Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine, according to Reuters, putting on hold a controversial decision by a far-right Texas judge revoking the Food and Drug Administration's certification of the abortion drug mifepristone.

The move prevents the decision, which was issued last Friday but was stayed until today to give federal authorities time to appeal, from taking effect at midnight tonight. According to University of Texas Law professor Steve Vladeck, the full Supreme Court is now set up to issue a ruling on the matter on Wednesday.

Alito is famously one of the Supreme Court's arch-conservatives, and authored the opinion reversing Roe v. Wade last year.

The case concerns a group of anti-abortion groups which argued that the FDA did not properly subject mifepristone to medical scrutiny when it approved the drug over 20 years ago. Among other things, the group claimed the drug wasn't evaluated specifically in minors, and wasn't evaluated for the psychological anguish of women regretting abortions.

Trump-appointed federal District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk of Amarillo agreed, despite the drug being on the market for over two decades with no problems and despite data showing it is safer than Viagra and penicillin. Kacsmaryk also came under fire for his lack of transparency in scheduling hearings on the issue, being accused of trying to evade public scrutiny.

Prior to the Supreme Court's intervention, a three-judge panel on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals partially blocked Kacsmaryk's ruling, unanimously agreeing that the approval of the drug was outside the statute of limitations to reconsider — but two Trump appointees on the panel allowed other parts of the ruling, including a block on non-doctors from prescribing mifepristone and a block on prescribing the drug through telemedicine and mail delivery.

Further complicating matters, another federal judge in Washington State made an opposite ruling, saying the FDA must increase access to mifepristone in 17 states and D.C. that sued over regulations restricting it. That judge clarified today that his ruling overrides Kacsmaryk's ruling in the affected states, further increasing the pressure for the Supreme Court to step in.

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