Judges at the U.S Supreme Court are expected to decide sometime Friday on whether widely-used abortion pill mifepristone can remain available across America while an appeals case works its way through the legal system.
The court intervened to issue temporary permission after a Texas judge ruled mifepristone should not have been approved by the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Justice Samuel Alito extended the stay until Friday midnight after the original decision expired on Wednesday.
The original case was brought by the Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine against the FDA.
“This drug does not treat or cure a disease but kills an unborn child and exposes his or her mother to dangerous, life-threatening side effects,” said Carol Tobias, president of American lobby group, National Right to Life.
“The 5th Circuit Court recognized that, by removing the guardrails on this dangerous drug, the FDA places women at greater risk of life-threatening harm.”
The decision by the 5th Circuit court removed changes to the FDA’s loosening of the original safeguards it applied to mifepristone, in a series of recent decisions.
Instead, it leaves in place the original requirement that the drug may only be used up to 7 weeks of pregnancy, with three visits to a doctor. The action of the Texas court also removes the right to post the abortion pill, dispense it in pharmacies, or permission for for non-doctors to administer the drug.
A private conference of the Supreme Court judges is expected Friday, where the issue could come up.
Legal commentators suggest that the time being taken is to see if a consensus can be found among the justices, or whether one of them intends to use the extension in time to write a dissenting opinion.