Reactions Erupt as Supreme Court Upholds FDA’s Abortion Pill Guidelines

A statement from Students for Life of America, which filed an amicus curiae brief for the case, called the ruling ‘disappointing but not surprising.’

Students for Life signage outside the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C.
Students for Life signage outside the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. (photo: Rena Schild / Shutterstock)

The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously struck down a physician-led challenge to the abortion pill in a ruling Thursday morning. 

The court’s decision upholds current U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines regarding its regulation of mifepristone, an abortion drug. Arguments against the drug highlighted its recent deregulation, which no longer requires an in-person visit to the doctor and allows for mail-order access to the drug. 

Justice Brett Kavanagh, who wrote the Supreme Court’s decision upholding the FDA guidelines on procedural grounds, found the plaintiffs failed to demonstrate sufficient legal standing to sue the FDA over its regulation of mifepristone.

Despite striking down the pro-life plaintiffs, the decision also reiterates the strong federal conscience protections that exist for physicians, stating that “federal conscience laws definitively protect doctors from being required to perform abortions or to provide other treatment that violates their consciences … doctors cannot be required to treat mifepristone complications in any way that would violate the doctors’ consciences.”

Prominent Catholic and pro-life organizations released statements or reacted on social media to the decision. 

In a statement on behalf of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB spokeswoman Chieko Noguchi said, “Today’s Court ruling on procedural grounds will continue to put the health of women and girls at risk. As the USCCB’s pro-life chairman has said, abortion is not health care. The Church will continue to advocate for women’s health and safety, and to lovingly serve mothers in need.”

Catholic lawyer and writer Ed Whelan published a reaction in the National Review, in which he clarified that, “News reports that assert that today’s ruling ‘ensures access’ to mifepristone (or similar phrasing) are badly misstating things. For starters, state laws against abortion apply to abortions done via the abortion-drug regimen. In addition, some states have laws that specifically target abortion drugs. Although there is some litigation against those laws, the laws should prevail.”

Whelan also commented on the misconception that Thursday’s ruling has bearing on the application of the Comstock Act, which prohibits the distribution of mifepristone via mail: “... the Biden administration’s position is that FDA approval is just one of several permission slips necessary for the lawful distribution and use of mifepristone. Today’s ruling means that mifepristone continues to have the FDA’s permission slip. But it does not mean that it has the state-law permission slips or the Comstock Act permission slip.”

Carrie Severino, also a Catholic lawyer and president of the Judicial Crisis Network, reacted to the ruling on her X account, pointing to what it indicates about the scope of the bureaucratic state and how this impairs the democratic process. 

She wrote, “This case illustrates how the behemoth administrative state has empowered unelected bureaucrats to create regulations that affect the lives of everyday Americans but are so difficult — or even impossible — to successfully challenge in court.”

Former abortionist-turned-pro-life doctor Dr. John Bruchalski of Divine Mercy Care offered his perspective on EWTN News Nightly discussing the real harm of chemical abortion for mother and baby, and the extreme danger without an in-person doctor's visit. 

Pro-life organizations and advocates also expressed disappointment with the ruling, and emphasized that the fight against abortion drugs will continue.

On X, Lila Rose, Catholic founder and president of Live Action, similarly highlighted the Supreme Court’s reliance on procedure: “The ruling is procedural & fails to engage the Admin’s unlawful actions. Those unlawful actions will be back at SCOTUS soon.”

Students for Life of America, which filed an amicus curiae brief for the case, called the ruling “disappointing but not surprising.” 

On X, Students for Life President Kristan Hawkins said, “The Supreme Court’s decision to send this case away because of ‘standing’ was expected, but we expect the case to continue as those harmed by Chemical Abortion are MANY…We’ll be back.”