Supreme Court: Pro-Life Doctors Lack Standing Against FDA

Supreme Court: Pro-Life Doctors Lack Standing Against FDA

The Supreme Court ruled unanimously on Thursday that a group of pro-life doctors lack the legal standing to challenge the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) relaxing of regulations around the abortion drug mifepristone, known widely as the “abortion pill.”

Justice Clarence Thomas explained in his concurring opinion that the court’s “precedents require a plaintiff to demonstrate that the defendant’s challenged actions caused his asserted injuries. And, the Court aptly explains why plaintiffs have failed to establish that the Food and Drug Administration’s changes to the regulation of mifepristone injured them.”

Erin Hawley, Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) senior counsel and vice president of the ADF Center for Life and Regulatory Practice, said, “We are disappointed that the Supreme Court did not reach the merits of the FDA’s lawless removal of commonsense safety standards for abortion drugs. … While we’re disappointed with the court’s decision, we will continue to advocate for women and work to restore commonsense safeguards for abortion drugs—like an initial office visit to screen for ectopic pregnancies. And we are grateful that three states stand ready to hold the FDA accountable for jeopardizing the health and safety of women and girls across this country.”

Idaho, Kansas and Missouri attempted to join the case, but their request was rejected by the Supreme Court. However, some have said that more legal action against the FDA could follow from these states.

In November 2022, the Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine, the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American College of Pediatricians and the Christian Medical and Dental Associations, along with four medical professionals, represented by ADF, sued the FDA over their lax regulations surrounding mifepristone and companion drug misoprostol that endanger women and their unborn children.

The drugs were first approved in 2000—and in 2016 and 2021, under Presidents Barack Obama and Joe Biden, the FDA abandoned regulations on how the drugs were dispensed that some doctors argue were medically valid. Now, women can access chemical abortion by mail delivery, without an in-person visit with a medical professional to validate gestational age and ensure the pregnancy is not ectopic.

In April of last year, a federal judge in Texas ruled in favor of the pro-life doctors and struck down the FDA’s approval of the drug in 2000. In a mixed decision, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the ruling against the relaxed regulations—but it stayed the decision to suspend the FDA’s approval of the drug.

Oral arguments before the Supreme Court were held on March 26 and drew national attention.

Katie Daniel, state policy director of Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, stated, “It is a sad day for all who value women’s health and unborn children’s lives, but the fight to stop dangerous mail-order abortion drugs is not over. Abortion drugs send approximately one in 25 women to the ER according to the FDA’s own label, yet the abortion lobby gaslights women about the risks and seeks to block states from even collecting safety data. … The old talking point that abortion is a ‘choice between a woman and her doctor’ has been exposed as a lie.”

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