Newsletter: Should the Courts Restrict Access to the Abortion Pill?

Mock Trial: Should the Courts Restrict Access to the Abortion Pill?

This week:

  • A new Mock Trial:  Is the FDA right on the Abortion Pill?
  • A closer look at the rise of medication abortions in the U.S.
  • Your Sunday reading list



As we acknowledge the sixtieth anniversary of the FDA’s approval of the birth control pill on May 9th, we’re examining the FDA’s approval of yet another pill that impacts reproductive rights for women nationwide. In a post-Roe world, where 1 in 8 voters consider abortion to be the most important issue for them in 2024, the FDA-approved use of the abortion pill mifepristone is now being considered before the Supreme Court. In our popular Mock Trial format, two prominent lawyers, representing both sides of the case, bring you key arguments in an impassioned and accessible manner.

What You Need to Know About the Case: It involves mifepristone (also known as Mifeprex), which is paired with misoprostol to conduct abortions. The respondent, the Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine, argued that the FDA didn’t do their due diligence in their 2016 and 2021 rulings that expanded its administration for up to ten weeks of pregnancy and permitted telehealth mailings of the medication when it previously required in-person clinical visits. The FDA argues their decisions were based on extensive research and clinical trials proving the drug’s safety and that considerable evidence is needed to prove otherwise when there is an attempt to overrule agency decisions. If the FDA loses the case, it will increase barriers for women by halting delivery through the mail and increasing out-of-state travel to undergo surgical procedures in states that haven’t outlawed abortion, giving women less choice in their healthcare decisions.

The Abortion Pill By the Numbers:

  • 63% of women in the U.S. use mifepristone and misoprostol to undergo an abortion.
  • 21 states have banned or restricted abortion since Roe v. Wade’s overturn.
  • Complications related to the pill are rare, as there is less than 0.4% risk of serious complications requiring hospitalization or a transfusion.
  • From its approval in 2000 to June 2022, the FDA states that 28 deaths have occurred out of the 5.6 million women who have taken the drug.

Should the Supreme Court rule to restrict the abortion pill? Did the FDA act beyond its authority to approve mifepristone despite the risks? We invite you as the jury to listen closely on your favorite podcast platform, WNYC, and YouTube — and make your judgment.




Julia Kaye

Senior Staff Attorney at the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project



Catherine Glenn Foster

Senior Fellow in Legal Policy at the Charlotte Lozier Institute



John Donvan

Host and Moderator-in-Chief




How much will use decrease if SCOTUS votes in favor of restriction?



Should the Courts Restrict Access to the Abortion Pill?


YES: Catherine Glenn Foster

“Where are the checks and balances on unelected bureaucracies and their ability to impact millions of lives? Agencies aren’t infallible, no agency is above the law, and when they get something wrong, what comes next? In 2000, the FDA approved a two-drug abortion regimen, mifepristone and misoprostol. 1 in 25 women, of the hundreds of thousands who take abortion drugs each year, end up in the emergency room. Chemical [as opposed to surgical] abortions carry a greater risk of hemorrhage, greater risk of sepsis, and the FDA expanded the gestational age, cut the relationship with the woman’s doctor, and fails to educate women. Whether or not someone agrees with a woman’s decision to seek an abortion, we do not want that woman encountering harm. We do not want her ending up in the ER. We do not want her facing emergency surgery or extra pills. Let’s focus on women’s safety.”


NO: Julia Kaye

“Mifepristone is a safe, effective medication used in most U.S. abortions, and is part of the gold-standard treatment regimen for miscarriages. Since the FDA first approved it more than two decades ago, nearly six million people in the United States have taken this medication and millions more globally. The World Health Organization calls mifepristone an essential medication. There’s no credible dispute about mifepristone safety. The nation’s leading medical associations describe the science confirming mifepristone safety as overwhelming. While all drugs carry risks, these medical experts have explained that mifepristone is among the safest medications being used in medical practice today. Serious complications occur in a fraction of 1% of patients.”




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