Supreme Court won't immediately revive abortion-medication restriction

The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday declined to reinstate a federal mandate that women go directly to a hospital or medical office to pick up mifepristone, a medication used to terminate pregnancy.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday declined to reinstate a federal mandate that women go directly to a hospital or medical office to pick up mifepristone, a medication used to terminate pregnancy. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), on behalf of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and other groups, had complained that forcing patients to visit a health care facility during the COVID-19 pandemic is unnecessary when the drug could easily be mailed or delivered. There is no requirement that women pick up a second drug, misoprostol, in person, and it is available at community and mail-order pharmacies. A federal judge in Maryland, agreeing that the requirement almost certainly represents an undue burden on the constitutional right to abortion, imposed a nationwide injunction. An appellate court in Virginia refused to stay the injunction, however, while an appeal moved forward, prompting the Trump administration to seek the High Court's intervention. Acting Solicitor General Jeffrey B. Wall argues that the in-person stipulation does not block access to abortion because surgical procedures remain an option, while ACLU counters that the constitutional violation stems from "unnecessary travel and physical proximity to other people as a condition of obtaining abortion care." The Supreme Court justices instructed the trial judges to revisit the case and rule within 40 days. Until then, the disputed requirement will remain suspended.