Amid a nationwide battle over abortion access, the Supreme Court on Thursday issued a surprising unanimous ruling that will allow a pill used to induce abortion to remain widely available.

The justices decided that the doctors who raised issues with the FDA’s guidelines for the pill, which is called mifepristone, lacked legal standing. For that reason, they said, the lawsuit should not have been allowed to proceed.

Because the ruling is based on the question of standing, the justices did not address other questions about whether the FDA’s guidelines for the pill are appropriate.

“The plaintiffs do not prescribe or use mifepristone. And FDA is not requiring them to do or refrain from doing anything,” wrote Justice Brett Kavanaugh for the court. “Under Article III of the Constitution, a plaintiff‘s desire to make a drug less available for others does not establish standing to sue.”

The Supreme Court’s home stretch

Supreme Court rulings on abortion

Thursday’s opinion marks the first time the court has ruled on abortion rights since it overturned Roe v. Wade in June 2022.

At that time, the justices were divided into two ideological camps, with the six more conservative justices voting against Roe, the 1973 ruling that created a federal right to access abortion early in a pregnancy, while the more liberal justices defended it.

Now, the justices are unified in ruling against the group of doctors, who are called the Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine. The majority opinion says that sincere concern about abortion is not enough to give you standing to sue to block access to an abortion-inducing pill.

“The plaintiffs have sincere legal, moral, ideological, and policy objections to elective abortion and to FDA’s relaxed regulation of mifepristone. But under Article III of the Constitution, those kinds of objections alone do not establish a justiciable case or controversy in federal court,” Kavanaugh wrote.

He added that the plaintiffs should feel free to continue expressing their concerns, just not in the form of a federal lawsuit.

“The federal courts are the wrong forum for addressing the plaintiffs’ concerns about FDA’s actions. The plaintiffs may present their concerns and objections to the President and FDA in the regulatory process, or to Congress and the President in the legislative process. And they may also express their views about abortion and mifepristone to fellow citizens, including in the political and electoral processes,” the majority opinion said.

Background of mifepristone case

The Supreme Court case centered on the FDA’s guidelines for the use of mifepristone, which is typically prescribed along with misoprostol to women seeking a medication abortion.

Mifepristone was first approved in 2000, but it could only be used under limited circumstances with close medical supervision, as the Deseret News previously reported.

In 2016, the FDA updated its guidelines, determining that it was safe to use mifepristone slightly later in pregnancy — up to 10 weeks — and with only one doctor visit. In 2021, health officials said the abortion pill could be provided by mail.

The doctors who brought the case took issue with these updates to the original guidelines, arguing that the FDA’s decision-making process was not thorough and that the current guidelines for use of the pill are unsafe.


Lower courts handed the Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine a temporary but still significant victory, limiting access to mifepristone while the lawsuit played out. But in April 2023, the Supreme Court overturned those temporary bans, protecting access to the pill.

The justices later agreed to hear the case, which it did in March. During oral arguments, the justices asked many questions about standing, but some also wondered if a ruling against the doctors would give the FDA too much power, as the Deseret News reported at the time.

Reactions to Supreme Court’s abortion pill ruling

Because of Thursday’s ruling, mifepristone will remain available in most states, including by mail. It will not be available in states that prohibit abortion in all or most cases.

Here are some reactions to the unanimous decision.

  • “The court is sending a clear signal it would prefer this question be settled elsewhere. Unfortunately, by not ruling on the merits and allowing this drug to remain available on procedural grounds, the court is affording more time for the abortion industry to target vulnerable mothers with these harmful chemicals. Preborn lives will inevitably be lost as a result. That is what makes today’s loss so heartbreaking,” said Brent Leatherwood, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, in a statement.
  • “Today, religious extremists suffered a setback in their quest to force all of us to live by their narrow beliefs. The Supreme Court’s decision to deny standing to anti-abortion activists and leave in place the FDA’s approval of mifepristone is not only a welcome victory for abortion access, but also for the separation of church and state,” said Rachel Laser, president and CEO of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, in a statement.
  • “Disappointing but not surprising. 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,” said Kristan Hawkins, the president of Students for Life of America, on X.
  • “Today’s decision is not the final judgment on the safety or effectiveness of mifepristone,” said The Heritage Foundation’s statement. “While legal technicalities might allow Biden’s FDA to continue manipulating its safety rules to push a pro-abortion agenda at the expense of health and common sense, women and girls taking these chemical abortion drugs are still in danger and largely left to fend for themselves.”
  • “The problem with saying SCOTUS ideologically divided cases are the ‘big’ ones: Court unanimously tosses out challenge against abortion drug mifiprestone. And now it will no longer be considered a big case … (because) it wasn’t ideologically divided” said ABC News contributor Sarah Isgur on X.
Join the Conversation
Looking for comments?
Find comments in their new home! Click the buttons at the top or within the article to view them — or use the button below for quick access.