Debevoise Files Amicus Brief Asking Supreme Court to Preserve Access to Mifepristone

17 April 2023

Debevoise & Plimpton LLP has filed an amicus curiae brief in the Supreme Court of the United States on behalf of 16 leading medical and public health societies in an effort to protect access to mifepristone, a drug commonly used in medication abortion, as well as miscarriage care and other treatments. After the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals refused to stay the Federal District Court’s order overriding the Food and Drug Administration’s (“FDA”) decision to relax certain limitations on the prescription and use of mifepristone, the FDA filed an emergency petition seeking relief from the Supreme Court.

The brief supports the FDA’s request to stay the lower court’s order in full while the merits of the case are litigated. It underscores that the mifepristone is extremely safe and effective, and that the Fifth Circuit adopted the same flawed reasoning and pseudoscientific approach as the District Court. It further highlights that mifepristone has become an essential medicine for the treatment of miscarriages and other pregnancy-related conditions.

The brief makes clear that the FDA’s decision to remove certain restrictions on mifepristone was firmly rooted in scientific evidence, and that these restrictions are medically unnecessary to ensure patient safety. To the contrary, limiting access to mifepristone will exacerbate the risks already associated with pregnancy and childbirth and will inevitably impede access to quality care. “These impacts will be most severe for people of color as well as low-income and rural patients, who are more likely to die or develop serious complications from pregnancy, and who have limited access to alternative procedures (i.e., procedural abortion) or lack the ability to travel long distances for health care.”

The brief was filed on behalf of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Medical Association, the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Academy of Nursing, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Nurse-Midwives, the American Gynecological and Obstetrical Society, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, the Council of University Chairs of Obstetrics & Gynecology, the National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women’s Health, the Society for Academic Specialists in General Obstetrics and Gynecology, the Society of Family Planning, the Society of General Internal Medicine, the Society of Gynecologic Oncology, and the Society of OB/GYN Hospitalists.

The Debevoise team is led by litigation partner Shannon Rose Selden and associates Adam Aukland-Peck and Megan McGuiggan, and includes associates Nicole Marton, Hillary Hubley, and Anu Chugh, along with law clerks Elise Marie Coletta, Prakriti Luthra and Charlotte Blatt.