Daily Hot Topic
Topic : US Supreme Court Upholds Mifepristone Access
GS-1 & 2  Mains  : Society and IR
Revision Notes


  • Anti-abortion groups challenged the FDA’s approval of mifepristone, a medication used in medical abortions.

Lawsuit Details:

  • Plaintiffs: Four medical associations and some doctors (pro-life)
  • Filed In: US District Court, Northern District of Texas
  • Challenge: Both initial approval and subsequent modifications for broader access (mail, telemedicine)

Plaintiffs’ Claims:

  • Mifepristone is unsafe.
  • FDA’s approval process was flawed.

Legal Proceedings:

  • April 2023: Judge Kacsmaryk suspended FDA approval (effectively removing mifepristone from market).
  • Appeals Court: Partially overturned, imposing restrictions (no mail or telemedicine prescribing).
  • Supreme Court: Agreed to hear the case and put a hold on the appeals court ruling.

Supreme Court Verdict (Personal Stake Requirement):

  • Plaintiffs lacked standing to sue due to no direct stake in the dispute.
  • Precedent from 1982 case requires a “distinct and palpable injury” directly connected to the defendant’s actions.
  • Plaintiffs who don’t prescribe or use mifepristone couldn’t demonstrate a direct injury from its availability.
  • Desire to restrict access to others isn’t enough for legal standing.


  • Mifepristone remains accessible in the US (for now).
  • Federal courts aren’t for general complaints about government operations; a more direct connection is needed for standing.
  • The ruling doesn’t prevent future legal challenges to restrict mifepristone access.
  • This comes nearly two years after Roe v. Wade overturning.

Understanding Mifepristone:

  • Usage: Two-drug regimen with misoprostol for medical abortions.
  • FDA Approval: 2000, for up to 10 weeks of pregnancy.
  • Prevalence: Used in ~66% of US medical abortions (over 6 million users since approval).
  • Function:
    • Mifepristone: Blocks progesterone, a hormone needed for pregnancy.
    • Misoprostol: Induces uterine contractions to expel pregnancy tissue.
  • Safety: Extensive research confirms mifepristone’s safety with rare serious complications.


  • The Supreme Court decision highlights the importance of personal stake in legal disputes, especially concerning abortion and drug approvals.
  • While mifepristone access remains available, future legal challenges are possible.

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