SCOTUS Is Taking Up the Challenge to Mifepristone Access

The mifepristone case could severely impact the FDA's regulatory powers.

Red packet of mifepristone
The Supreme Court will hear a challenge to mifepristone access this term. Shutterstock/Austen Risolvato/Rewire News Group

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court announced it will hear Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine v. FDA, a case that could set access to medication abortion back decades. We’ve covered it extensively in our weekly newsletter The Fallout and more than once on the Boom! Lawyered podcast.

This case represents the next major fight for abortion access nationwide since the Court reversed Roe v. Wade over a year ago in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision.

But the case is about more than just the FDA’s approval process for mifepristone, one of two medications currently used for early abortions in the United States. It’s about the regulatory power of the FDA in general. And even more dangerous than that, it’s the first real test of the conservative legal movement’s strategy to resurrect the Comstock Act to ban abortion—and maybe even contraception—nationwide.

The justices will hear this case this term, although there’s no date set for oral arguments. A decision will likely come by the end of term in late June.

Physicians responded to the announcement affirming the safety of mifepristone and advocating for it to remain accessible.

“There is no legitimate medical or scientific reason access to mifepristone should be limited,” said Dr. Jamila Perritt, an OB-GYN and the president and CEO of Physicians for Reproductive Health. “It is clear this case is about anti-abortion extremists’ desire to ban all abortion care in this country.”

Whole Woman’s Health Alliance President and CEO Amy Hagstrom Miller said in a statement the Supreme Court taking up the mifepristone case changes “absolutely nothing” for the organization’s operations.

“As medical providers, we take our instructions from the FDA, not from far-right, political courts, and we will continue to offer mifepristone through both our in-clinic and virtual programs,” Hagstrom Miller said. “We know that mifepristone is safe and effective, and our dedicated medical staff will continue to prescribe it, ensuring that our patients have access to the expert care they deserve.”