The United States Supreme Court reinstated a requirement Tuesday that women seeking to obtain abortion pills must pick up the pills in person from a hospital or medical office rather than receiving them by mail.
“The question before us is not whether the requirements for dispensing mifepristone impose an undue burden on a woman’s right to an abortion as a general matter,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the unsigned ruling. “The question is instead whether the District Court properly ordered the Food and Drug Administration to lift those established requirements because of the court’s own evaluation of the impact of the COVID–19 pandemic.”
Breaking News: The Supreme Court reinstated an abortion-pill restriction that requires women to pick up in person medications used to end pregnancies. https://t.co/Lac0Xxxmij— The New York Times (@nytimes) January 12, 2021
“Here, as in related contexts concerning government responses to the pandemic, my view is that courts owe significant deference to the politically accountable entities with the ‘background, competence, and expertise to assess public health,’” he continued. “In light of those considerations, I do not see a sufficient basis here for the District Court to compel the FDA to alter the regimen for medical abortion.”
The ruling comes after both pro-life supporters and pro-choice advocates fought over abortion access for months during the pandemic: Pro-lifers lobbied for governors to ban abortions as medically unnecessary procedures, while pro-abortion advocates called for continued and increased abortion access despite the pandemic.
“This country’s laws have long singled out abortions for more onerous treatment than other medical procedures that carry similar or greater risks,” Justice Sonia Sotomayor, joined by Justice Elena Kagan, wrote in her dissent, the Times reported.
“Like many of those laws, maintaining the FDA’s in-person requirements” for picking up the drug “during the pandemic not only treats abortion exceptionally, it imposes an unnecessary, irrational and unjustifiable undue burden on women seeking to exercise their right to choose.”
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