Supreme Court Poised to Hear Arguments About Abortion Pill Access

The Supreme Court is expected on Tuesday to weigh the availability of a commonly used abortion pill, raising the possibility that it could sharply curtail access to the drug — even in states where abortion access remains legal.

The case means that abortion is once again before the court, less than two years after a conservative majority eliminated the constitutional right to abortion and said it would cede the question of access “to the people and their elected representatives.”

A decision by the justices, expected by late June, could cut off prescriptions by telemedicine and pills sent by mail, two changes in recent years that broadened distribution. It could also have implications for the regulatory authority of the Food and Drug Administration, potentially calling into question the agency’s ability to approve and distribute other drugs.

The current challenge involves mifepristone, a drug approved by the F.D.A. more than two decades ago that is used in nearly two-thirds of abortions in the country. At issue is whether the agency acted appropriately in expanding access to the drug in 2016 and again in 2021.

The court is also expected to consider whether the plaintiffs, a group of anti-abortion doctors and organizations, can show that they will suffer concrete harm if the pill remains widely available. Lawyers call this requirement standing.

The Biden administration had asked the Supreme Court to intervene after a three-judge panel of a federal appeals court favored curbing distribution of the drug. Until the justices decide, access to mifepristone remains unchanged, delaying the potential for abrupt limits on its availability.

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