Debevoise Files Amicus Brief Asking Supreme Court to Hear Case on Mifepristone and Preserve Broad Access to this Medication

13 October 2023

Debevoise & Plimpton LLP has filed an amicus curiae brief in the Supreme Court of the United States on behalf of the nation’s leading medical and public health societies in an effort to protect access to mifepristone, a drug commonly used in medication abortion and miscarriage care. After the Supreme Court granted an emergency stay of the Federal District Court’s preliminary order overriding the Food and Drug Administration’s (“FDA”) decision to relax certain limitations on the prescription and use of mifepristone, the Fifth Circuit heard the case and affirmed the District Court’s order in part – which would allow mifepristone to remain on the market, but would reinstate certain medically unnecessary restrictions on the prescription of mifepristone that the FDA began to remove in 2016.

The brief supports the FDA’s petition for certiorari for the Supreme Court to hear the case on the merits. It underscores that mifepristone, is safe and effective, “proven by decades of rigorous scientific study and millions of uses” and that additional restrictions surrounding its use are not medically necessary or scientifically sound. The brief makes clear that the FDA’s decision to remove certain restrictions on mifepristone was firmly rooted in scientific evidence, and the current protocols offer an equivalent level of safety with the benefit of increased access.

Limiting access to mifepristone will only exacerbate the risks already associated with pregnancy and childbirth and will inevitably impede access to quality care. As the brief says: “These concerns are not speculative. The risk of harm is concrete and rooted in the reality that mifepristone is an essential component of reproductive care, including miscarriage and abortion, and without it a vast number of patients will suffer.” The consequences will be most severe for populations who are already poorly served by the maternal health system, including people of color as well as low-income and rural patients.

The brief was filed on behalf of American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists; American Medical Association; Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine; American Academy of Family Physicians; American Academy of Pediatrics; American Gynecological and Obstetrical Society; American Society for Reproductive Medicine; Council of University Chairs of Obstetrics and Gynecology; North American Society for Pediatric Adolescent Gynecology; Society for Academic Specialists in General Obstetrics and Gynecology; Society of Family Planning; and 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 Charlotte Blatt, Elise Marie Coletta, Hillary Hubley, Prakriti Luthra, Emily Morgan and Nicole Marton, along with law clerk Zoe Jacoby.