Advance Notice: Briefs

Eight Michigan lawmakers sign SCOTUS brief opposing Texas abortion pill ruling

By: - April 18, 2023 11:05 am

U.S. Supreme Court | Jim Small/States Newsroom

Eight Democratic members of Michigan’s congressional delegation have signed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court to try and reverse a controversial ruling concerning the use of mifepristone.

Access to the drug, considered the most common form of abortion care and a key component in miscarriage management, was called into question by a Texas federal judge who suspended FDA’s decades-long approval of the safe and effective medication.

U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Flint Twp.) speaks at a rally at the Flint Farmers’ Market on Oct. 28, 2022. (Andrew Roth/Michigan Advance)

The brief signed by 253 members of Congress, supports the Biden administration’s appeal of the Texas district court’s ruling, U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Flint) announced Monday.

Also signing on were U.S. Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-Lansing) and Gary Peters (D-Bloomfield Twp.) and U.S. Reps. Debbie Dingell (D-Ann Arbor), Hillary Scholten (D-Grand Rapids), Elissa Slotkin (D-Lansing), Haley Stevens (D-Waterford Twp.) and Rashida Tlaib (Detroit).

In the brief, the lawmakers write, “the district court appears to have second-guessed FDA’s scientific determinations with cherry-picked anecdotes and studies, and on that basis, imposed a remedy that could significantly upend the status quo.”

While the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals last week partially granted the Biden administration’s request to allow mifepristone to remain available pending consideration of the full case, it allowed certain restrictions on how the medication is dispensed, including reducing when it can be taken from 10 weeks gestation to seven, require doctors to prescribe and administer the medication instead of health care providers with prescribing authority and require three in-person visits.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday issued a stay in the case.

If the district court ruling goes into effect, the lawmakers stress that not only could patients in Michigan and every state be denied access to the most common form of miscarriage management, but also FDA’s authority to determine the safety and efficacy of other drugs would be put at risk, threatening patients’ access to critical medications.

“Emergency relief from the order is necessary to mitigate the imminent harm facing members of the public, many of whom rely on the availability of mifepristone for reproductive care—and many more of whom rely on the integrity of FDA’s drug approval process for continued access to life-improving and lifesaving drugs,” stated the brief. “Congress intended to — and did — vest authority in FDA to evaluate and ensure the safety and efficacy of drugs in the United States, and Amici call on this Court to give due weight to that intent.”

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Jon King
Jon King

Jon King has been a journalist for more than 35 years. He is the Past President of the Michigan Associated Press Media Editors Association and has been recognized for excellence numerous times, most recently in 2021 with the Best Investigative Story by the Michigan Association of Broadcasters. He is also an adjunct faculty member at Cleary University. Jon and his family live in Howell, where he also serves on the Board of Directors for the Livingston Diversity Council.