Trump administration asks Supreme Court to rule on restriction of abortion pills

Three RU-486 Mifeprex abortion pills are held in a hand December 1, 2000 in Granite City, Illinois.

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The Trump administration on Wednesday asked the Supreme Court to reinstate restrictions on an abortifacient drug as it appeals a federal judge’s decision that temporarily suspended such limits nationwide due to the coronavirus pandemic. coronavirus.

The administration’s request, if granted, would again prevent women from getting the drug, known as mifepristone or RU486, unless they go to a hospital, clinic or doctor’s office. , and also acknowledge in writing that they have been informed of the risks of the drug.

The Department of Justice, in its petition to the Supreme Court, argued that “any burden” of forcing women to comply with these restrictions “with a single clinic visit” is outweighed by the risks they suffer serious side effects from the pill.

Since 2000, the United States Food and Drug Administration has placed restrictions on the drug which, when used in conjunction with another drug, misoprostol, causes a woman’s pregnancy to end.

The FDA says the restrictions are necessary to mitigate what it says are serious health risks associated with mifepristone, such as excessive bleeding.

But in May, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, along with other organizations, sued the FDA and the Department of Health and Human Services, seeking to overturn the rule.

In response to that lawsuit, Maryland Federal District Court Judge Theodore Chuang on July 13 barred the FDA from enforcing the rule during the Covid-19 pandemic, saying the restrictions were an undue burden and a “substantial obstacle” to women’s access to abortion services. Chuang cited a 1992 Supreme Court decision in an abortion case for his decision.

“By forcing some patients to decide between forgoing or significantly delaying abortion care, or risking exposure to COVID-19 for themselves, their children, and family members, in-person requirements present a serious burden to many. many aborted patients,” Chuang wrote in her ruling.

People take part in an abortion rights rally outside the Supreme Court as the justices hear oral argument in the June Medical Services v. Russo case on March 4, 2020 in Washington, DC.

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Justice Department lawyers later asked Chuang to suspend his order pending their appeal of his decision, but he declined to do so on July 30.

The United States Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, which is hearing the DOJ’s appeal of Chuang’s decision, also declined on August 13 to stay Chuang’s order pending the outcome of the appeal.

The denial led to the Justice Ministry’s petition to the Supreme Court on Wednesday asking the High Court to reinstate the rule as the ministry appeals Chuang’s order.

The DOJ, in that request, said that “by suspending enforcement of the nationwide security requirements, the District Court has irreparably harmed both the government and the public at large.”

“Even if the FDA ultimately prevails on the merits [in the lawsuit]the risks to patients and any harm that materializes cannot be undone,” the department said.

“These costs outweigh any burdens associated with a single clinic visit to receive medication that is only a means to obtain an abortion.”

President Donald Trump, although he has supported abortion rights in the past, currently opposes it. Since becoming president, his administration has pursued policies to limit abortions and pledged to appoint Supreme Court justices who will overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 High Court decision which declared that women had the right to have abortions without undue government restrictions. .

Helen D. Jessen