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US Supreme Court rejects bid to restrict access to abortion pill mifepristone

 Abortion-rights activists hold signs as they protest outside of the U.S. Supreme Court during a rally in Washington, March 26, 2024. [AP Photo]

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled against restricting access to the abortion pill mifepristone on Thursday, turning back a challenge from anti-abortion advocates.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the pill in 2000, and it's currently used in more than 60% of U.S. abortions.

In a unanimous opinion written by Justice Brett Kavanaugh, the court said anti-abortion doctors and activists who brought the case did not have legal standing to sue because they did not show they were harmed by the FDA's actions.

Kavanaugh said although they don't use the drug, anti-abortion groups and doctors want the FDA to make it harder for women to receive it.

"Under Article III of the Constitution, a plaintiff's desire to make a drug less available for others does not establish standing to sue," he wrote.

The case is another in the ongoing battle over abortion in the United States. In 2022, the Supreme Court overturned the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which legalized abortion across the nation.

Fight over mifepristone

The FDA said that mifepristone has been used for decades and has proven to be "extremely safe."

The plaintiffs, who were led by the Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine, argued that the FDA stopped ensuring the medications were safe when it eased restrictions on access to mifepristone.

They also accused the FDA of violating a federal law that regulates the actions of government agencies.

The plaintiffs sued in Texas in 2022. In 2023, U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk supported their argument. After the government appealed, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals based in New Orleans, Louisiana, ruled against the FDA's decision to widen access to the pill in 2016 and 2021.

That decision was paused as it was being reviewed by the Supreme Court.

The plaintiffs previously targeted FDA actions in 2016 and 2021. Those actions were to allow medication abortions at up to 10 weeks and for mail delivery of the drug without seeing a doctor first.

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