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Abortion pill challenge tossed by Supreme Court. What it means for Michigan

Protestors outside of the Supreme Court with pro and anti abortion signs
The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday upheld access to a pill used in more than half of the nation’s abortions.
  • U.S. Supreme Court throws out challenge that sought to limit access to abortion pill mifepristone
  • Justices not convinced of harms that pro-life advocates warned would occur should the medication be kept on the market
  • Mifepristone has been used in half of all medication abortions in Michigan, where voters enshrined a right to abortion in the state constitution

LANSING — The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday threw out a challenge to federal rules for prescribing the abortion medication mifepristone, a decision that means the pills will continue to be accessible in Michigan.

The desire “to make a drug less available does not establish standing to sue,” justices said in rejecting a lawsuit that sought to limit the medication. 

Mifepristone is the first drug of a two-drug regimen to medically end a pregnancy. It was used in more than half of all abortions in Michigan in 2022,  according to state data.

The decision is a crushing blow to anti-abortion advocates, who sought to crack down on the U.S Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) rule making abilities for abortion pills, which plaintiffs claimed posed health risks for women. The FDA, for its part, maintained the pill is safe for use

It also marks the first time justices have addressed the topic of abortion since their 2022 decision to strike down Roe v. Wade, which had previously guaranteed a right to abortion nationwide. 


The Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine and other groups who sued to try to block the medication “oppose elective abortion, and have sincere legal, moral, ideological and policy objection” to others using the pills, Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote in the unanimous opinion.

But because they did not prescribe the drugs themselves, they could “suffer no physical injuries from FDA’s actions relaxing regulation of mifepristone,” he wrote. 

The ruling maintains the status quo in Michigan, where voters in 2022 approved a ballot measure that enshrined abortion rights in the state constitution. 


“Mifepristone will remain safe, legal, and available to Michiganders, despite another attempt by partisan, out-of-touch extremists trying to strip away reproductive freedom,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, said in a statement.

Some abortion rights advocates were reluctant to immediately celebrate, however, noting that while the court’s decision was a net-positive, it is not likely the last word on nationwide abortion access.

Shanay Watson-Whittaker, a Michigan organizer with Reproductive Freedom for All, predicted “anti-abortion extremists will continue attacking our reproductive freedom until they ban abortion nationwide.”


Initial reaction was muted from anti-abortion groups. National organizations like Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America vowed the “fight to stop … mail-order abortion drugs is not over.”

An official with Right to Life of Michigan declined immediate comment, saying she had not yet read the full ruling. 

The campaign-year ruling is sure to inform the presidential election, including in Michigan, a swing state that has hosted multiple campaign stops

Former President Donald Trump has shifted positions on abortion as he seeks a return to the White House. He recently walked back comments about a potential national ban to say states should decide their own policies. In late-April, Trump vowed to make a definitive statement on abortion pills, but he has not done so.

President Joe Biden, a Democrat, said in a Thursday statement he would “never stop fighting” to protect nationwide reproductive freedoms. “Americans have made it repeatedly clear they want more freedom, not less, and they will make their voices heard at the ballot box once again this November.”

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