Supreme Court Could Impose Nationwide Restrictions on Abortion

March 26, 2024 9:30 am

Media Contact
125 Broad Street
18th Floor
New York, NY 10004
United States

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court will hear oral argument later today in Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine v. FDA, which could have serious effects on people’s ability to access abortion. In today’s arguments, the anti-abortion groups who brought the case are seeking to overturn the FDA’s decisions regarding mifepristone in an effort to push the medication — which is used in most abortions in this country today — out of reach in every state across the country. Mifepristone has been safely used by more than 5 million people in the United States to end a pregnancy since FDA approved it nearly a quarter century ago, and it is part of the gold standard medication regimen for miscarriage treatment.

If the court sides with the plaintiffs, it would impose severe, medically unnecessary restrictions on mifepristone all across the country, including blocking people from being able to fill their mifepristone prescription by mail like other similarly safe medications and instead forcing them to travel, sometimes hundreds of miles, just to pick up a pill. It would also prohibit many qualified health care professionals from prescribing mifepristone for abortion and miscarriage care, thus depriving some patients of access to this critical medication altogether.

In advance of the arguments before the Supreme Court, Jennifer Dalven, director of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, issued the following statement:

“As this case shows, overturning Roe v. Wade wasn’t the end goal for extremists. They are trying to overrule the FDA and push mifepristone, a medication used in most abortions in this country, out of reach for people in every state in the nation. And astonishingly, next month they will be back before the court arguing for the right to force hospitals to turn away patients who need emergency abortions to protect their health. But they aren’t even stopping there: Politicians in some states have already moved on to attacking birth control and, as we saw in Alabama, they are also attacking IVF. We need to take these extremists seriously when they show us they’re coming for every aspect of our reproductive lives.”

The American Civil Liberties Union filed an amicus brief in this case highlighting how the lower court decisions imposing sweeping restrictions on mifepristone relied heavily on unreliable testimony and flawed research from a handful of witnesses who oppose abortion in all circumstances and want to see it banned nationwide. These so-called experts regularly testify in defense of abortion bans in cases brought by the ACLU and partners, and both they and the studies on which they rely have routinely been found by other courts to lack any credibility.

In addition to its harmful impact on abortion access, the decision would upend the drug development and approval process for other critical medications. That’s why 20 patient advocacy groups, including the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, the American Cancer Society, and numerous others, filed a brief outlining the catastrophic implications of this case for all Americans’ access to life-saving medical care. Restricting access to mifepristone among service-members, many of whom are stationed in remote and hard-to-access bases, would also hurt military readiness and recruitment according to former Department of Defense officials.

The ACLU’s brief in Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine v. FDA is a part of the ACLU’s Joan and Irwin Jacobs Supreme Court Docket.

More information on the impacts of the case can be found here.

Every month, you'll receive regular roundups of the most important civil rights and civil liberties developments. Remember: a well-informed citizenry is the best defense against tyranny.

Learn More About the Issues in This Press Release