U.S. Supreme Court

Alito keeps abortion drug access in place to give SCOTUS more time to act on emergency request

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Boxes of the drug mifepristone sit on a shelf at the West Alabama Women’s Center in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, on March 16, 2022. The drug was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2000. Photo by Allen G. Breed/The Associated Press.

Justice Samuel Alito on Wednesday extended an administrative stay to give the U.S. Supreme Court more time to consider an emergency request to allow full access to the abortion drug mifepristone during a challenge to its approval.

The administrative stay, which had been set to expire Wednesday, has been extended until Friday, report the Washington Post, the New York Times and CNN.

The stay keeps full access to mifepristone in place, while the Supreme Court considers legal arguments. Alito acted because he is responsible for overseeing the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals at New Orleans.

U.S. District Judge Matthew J. Kacsmaryk of the Northern District of Texas had ruled April 7 that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration violated its statutory duty to consider safety concerns when it approved the drug in 2000.

On appeal, the 5th Circuit allowed continued access to the drug but blocked later decisions by the FDA that expanded access to mifepristone. Those blocked decisions allowed access through the mail and for up to the tenth week of pregnancy, rather than the seventh week.

If the Supreme Court doesn’t block Kacsmaryk’s ruling Friday, “the majority of the supply of the mifepristone—which is used for most abortions in this country—could disappear almost overnight,” according to an April 19 press release by the American Civil Liberties Union.

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