Access to the abortion pill mifepristone will remain unchanged until next Wednesday, after a U.S. Supreme Court justice on Friday issued a stay on last week’s ruling from a conservative Texas judge banning the medicine.
Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito issued an administrative stay preserving access to mifepristone, which has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration since 2000, until 11:59 p.m. ET on Wednesday. It is likely the country’s highest court will rule more substantively on access to the medication before then, a decision that will have major ramifications for the FDA’s authority and access to the commonly used drug.
Alito’s stay comes hours after the Biden administration asked the Supreme Court for an emergency intervention in the wake of clashing rulings from the judge in Texas and another in Washington, who ordered the FDA to ensure access to mifepristone, which is also used to treat miscarriages.
Northern Texas District Court Judge Matthew Kacsmaryck late last Friday ruled that the FDA hastily approved the drug and acted politically, banning it nationwide. The FDA, the Justice Department, and the maker of brand-name mifepristone, Danco Laboratories, have all appealed the decision. Pharmaceutical companies and industry lobbies have also railed against the decision, citing the FDA as the “gold standard” for drug approvals.
An appeals court late Wednesday allowed mifepristone to stay on the market during legal battles but banned mail-order deliveries of the drug, which the FDA eased access to after removing in-person prescribing requirements earlier this year. Alito’s stay effectively returns mifepristone to FDA’s status quo.