‘Women should be outraged’: Lawmakers urge Supreme Court to restore abortion pill restrictions — By: Catholic News Agency

Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Mississippi, urges the Supreme Court to restore abortion pill restrictions at a Capitol Hill press conference hosted by Reps. Chris Smith, R-New Jersey, and August Pfluger, R-Texas, Mar. 21, 2024. / Credit: Peter Pinedo/CNA

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Mar 21, 2024 / 18:00 pm (CNA).

With the Supreme Court set to hear arguments in a high-stakes abortion case next week, pro-life House members are urging the court to restore what they believe are necessary restrictions on the abortion drug known as mifepristone.

Speaking at a Capitol Hill press conference on Thursday, lawmakers and activists said it was crucial that the court rule in favor of the pro-life groups in the case Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine v. Food and Drug Administration (AHM v. FDA), which is set to be heard by the Supreme Court on March 26.

Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Mississippi, said at the press conference that in loosening restrictions on mifepristone, the Biden administration is “endangering lives.”

“I’m praying for the justices as they hear these oral arguments next week for all women and unborn children who have suffered from these drugs,” she said. “I’m praying that the right decision will be made.”

“Women should be outraged that other women are put in danger like this,” she continued. “This just is not right, and women deserve better than this.”

What’s at stake?

Represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), several pro-life groups sued the FDA in 2022 to restore abortion drug restrictions, most notably requiring in-person doctor’s visits and prohibiting obtaining mifepristone by mail.

The Fifth Circuit Court ruled in 2023 that the FDA had to restore those restrictions but the Biden administration quickly appealed, leaving the ultimate decision with the Supreme Court.

On March 26 the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the case before deciding whether to restore the mifepristone restrictions.

What is mifepristone? 

Mifepristone is the drug most used in chemical abortions, which now accounts for 63% of all U.S. abortions. Mifepristone works by cutting off the nutrients necessary for an unborn baby to continue growing, essentially starving the baby to death.

In 2021 the FDA under the Biden administration loosened mifepristone restrictions allowing the pill to be mailed to women and taken without any in-person examination by a doctor. The administration also issued new guidance allowing retail pharmacies to dispense mifepristone, which allowed CVS and Walgreens to begin selling the drug in certain states this month.

Lawmakers and leaders speak up 

In November 2023, over 100 members of Congress signed an amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to rule in favor of the pro-life groups in AHM v. FDA. On Thursday, several of those lawmakers spoke in front of the U.S. Capitol, continuing to press the Supreme Court to restore mifepristone restrictions.

“This is about protecting the safety of Americans from a politicized FDA,” said Rep. August Pfluger, R-Texas.

“The FDA’s disregard for federal law and patient safeguards is appalling, and it’s unacceptable,” he continued. “We cannot allow politics to dictate health care decisions, especially when it comes to matters as critical as the health and safety of women.”

Rep. Tim Burchett, R-Tennessee, said that “the White House should be ashamed” and that “this is about profit, this is about a predatory industry that preys upon young girls.”

Also present at the press conference were several pro-life leaders including Dr. Christina Francis, an OB-GYN and CEO of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

“As an OB-GYN,” Francis said, “it is appalling to me that the FDA would leave women to perform their own chemical abortions at home, alone, without even one in-person visit to the doctor.”

“What’s even more shocking is that the FDA removed its safeguard despite its own label, stating that roughly 1 in 25 women who take these drugs will end up in the emergency room,” she said.

According to Francis, in-person doctor’s visits are especially vital to check for ectopic pregnancies and to verify the unborn baby’s level of development. Without knowing this information, Francis said, the likelihood of serious complications increases dramatically.

Abortion groups plan protest

Several lawmakers at the press conference mentioned that this case would not ban mifepristone and expressed hopes that increasing protections would be a unifying factor. Several pro-abortion groups, nevertheless, are vehemently opposed to any restrictions on mifepristone.

The Women’s March is one such group and has organized a demonstration outside the Supreme Court on the day of the hearing.

In a statement obtained by CNA, Women’s March executive director Rachel O’Leary Carmona said that “with the 2024 election approaching, and the GOP’s attack on women’s bodily autonomy growing disturbingly stronger every day — it’s crucial to shine a national spotlight on access to mifepristone and for Americans to understand what is at stake for women.”

“The reality of a nationwide abortion ban and limited access to reproductive health care is not a hypothetical — it’s happening right in front of us for all Americans to see,” Carmona said. 

‘I have never worked on a case like this’

In an exclusive interview with CNA, Erik Baptist, the lead ADF attorney on the case, said that the FDA’s decision to drop the mifepristone restrictions was “unprecedented” and based on “reckless” politics instead of science.  

“I have never worked on a case like this where a federal agency tasked with securing the safety of the general public, in particular here, women, has callously disregarded health without basis,” he said. “That is unprecedented what the FDA did here.”

With the hearing fast approaching, Baptist, who is Catholic, said he is grateful for the U.S. bishops’ recent national call for prayer for the case.

“It would be great to have millions of Catholics across this country in union saying a prayer for the outcome of this case, for women’s health, for their protection, and for everybody involved in this case on the issue of chemical abortion in general,” he said.

Baptist said that he expects the Supreme Court will not issue a final ruling until the end of its 2024 term in June.

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