The U.S. Supreme Court today unanimously ruled that the plaintiffs in the Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine vs FDA suit lacked standing to challenge the FDA’s approval of medication abortion drug mifepristone.

“The plaintiffs say that they are pro-life, oppose elective abortion, and have sincere legal, moral, ideological, and policy objections to mifepristone being prescribed and used by others,” wrote Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. “The plaintiffs appear to recognize that those general legal, moral, ideological, and policy concerns do not suffice on their own to confer Article III standing to sue in federal court. So to try to establish standing, the plaintiffs advance several complicated causation theories to connect FDA’s actions to the plaintiffs’ alleged injuries in fact.” 

Colorado abortion advocates welcomed the court’s decision. “Medication abortion care has a 20-year track record of being a safe, effective, FDA-approved option for ending an early pregnancy,” said Vanessa Martinez, COLOR’s policy director, in a news release. “Mifepristone has helped ensure that people can make their own private medical decisions, and it has expanded access to reproductive health care — something that is still under threat in this country, including in Colorado. We’re glad that today’s Supreme Court decision upholds people’s right to self-determine their health and future. But there’s still more to do.”

Medication abortions consist of two medications, mifepristone, which blocks the body’s production of progesterone, stopping the pregnancy from progressing, and misoprostol, which causes the uterus to expel the aborted material.

“The American Medical Association applauds today’s unanimous ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that preserves access to mifepristone for millions of women across the country,” said Dr. Bobby Mukkamala, president-elect of the American Medical Association, in a news release. “Efforts to second guess the FDA’s scientific judgment and roll back access to mifepristone were based on a sham case that not only lacked standing, but relied on speculative allegations and ideological assertions to undermine decades of rigorous scientific review proving the drug is highly safe and effective for both termination of pregnancy and for medical management of miscarriage. Substantial evidence shows that restricting access to needed abortion care without justification carries a psychological, physical, and economic toll. Current data show an association between restricted access to safe and legal abortion and higher rates of maternal morbidity and mortality, with already vulnerable populations experiencing the greatest burden. The AMA will continue to support access to safe and effective reproductive health care against the ongoing threats of interference in the practice of medicine.”

Attendees of Colorado’s first March for Life event in April.

The plaintiffs were represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a conservative legal advocacy group. The ADF also represented plaintiffs in the 2022 Dobbs decision, which overturned Roe v. Wade.

“Alliance Defending Freedom was honored to assist the State of Mississippi defend its life-affirming law at the U.S. Supreme Court in Dobbs, which resulted in the overturning of Roe v. Wade,” said ADF President and CEO Kristen Waggoner in a January news release commemorating the March for Life. “With the unconstitutional Roe regime behind us, we must ensure law and policy puts pregnant women and their unborn children first. No pregnant woman should feel alone or unsupported. As we look forward to the next 50 years, let us build a culture that honors the dignity of women, promotes human flourishing, and brings hope to the hopeless. ADF is dedicated to working with all Americans to find common ground and ensure women have the support, resources, and healthcare they deserve to become mothers and choose life for their children.”

The ADF has been involved in litigation here in Colorado, representing plaintiffs in the Masterpiece Cakeshop and 303 Creative cases, which challenged Colorado’s anti-discrimination statutes. The ADF is also representing Darren Patterson Christian Academy (DPCA), a private Christian school in Buena Vista, in their lawsuit against the Colorado Department of Early Childhood and Colorado’s Universal Preschool Program over the state’s nondiscrimination requirements, particularly in regard to LGBTQ individuals, to receive universal pre-k funds are a form of religious discrimination.

“The Court’s decision today is yet another example of why politicians need to stay out of decisions about abortion, and why we need to guarantee abortion access in the Colorado Constitution this fall, out of the reach of politicians and a single judge in Amarillo, Texas,” said Cobalt President and CEO Karen Middleton in a news release. “Medication abortion is used in two-thirds of abortions in the US. Here in Colorado, since the Dobbs decision overturning Roe, we have seen a surge in patients safely and effectively using mifepristone because of the increased access and its availability via telehealth. Mifepristone was approved by the FDA more than 20 years ago, and has been proven safe and effective ever since as millions of American women have used it. Medication abortion is safer than penicillin, Tylenol, and Viagra. This case should never have been brought in the first place. It was clearly political, not medical, and had nothing to do with health care — the studies cited in the original case have been withdrawn as not scientifically valid. Today’s decision was a good one. But it doesn’t change the fact with Trump overturning Roe, abortion access continues to be under attack in Colorado and nationwide.” 

Colorado Rep. Naquetta Ricks (D-Aurora), Co-Chair of the Democratic Women’s Caucus, noted that despite today’s ruling many Americans still struggle to access reproductive health care. “As relieved as I am about the ruling, this case never should’ve made it to the Supreme Court,” she said in a news release. “The fact that it did shows just how limited the reproductive rights landscape is and just how little respect this country has for pregnant people — many of whom, in spite of this ruling, still lack access to medication abortion due to state bans and restrictions on telehealth in other states.” 

In November, Colorado voters will decide whether to enshrine abortion protections in Colorado’s constitution, and to allow abortion to be covered by health insurance plans for state and local government employees, repealing the decades-old constitutional ban that prohibits state dollars from being used for abortions.

“This initiative is our opportunity to ensure our state continues to honor the will of the voters,” said Dusti Gurule, president and CEO of COLOR and co-chair of the Coloradans for Protecting Reproductive Freedom campaign in a news release. “According to our third annual Colorado Latino Policy Agenda, protecting and expanding abortion rights is a mobilizing force for Latino voter turnout, with more than half of respondents saying that laws passed around the nation to limit or ban abortion make them more likely to vote. Protecting and expanding access to abortion is essential to democracy.”

“Despite the strong legislation we passed to protect abortion rights in Colorado, it is clear that our work is not done,” said Sen. Lisa Cutter (D-Dakota Ridge), Co-Chair of the Democratic Women’s Caucus, in a news release.  “We are continuing to fight to further protect abortion providers and those seeking abortion care in Colorado, and to enshrine the right to care in the state constitution. When abortion care is accessible, individuals, families, and communities thrive, and we will not stop fighting to protect that right.”