On October 12, 2023, Doctors for America and the Reproductive Health Coalition (RHC) —cofounded by the American Medical Women’s Association — filed a new amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court to emphasize the profound harms to American health care that would likely flow if medically unnecessary restrictions were placed on access to mifepristone.
The brief, filed in the case of Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine vs. FDA, urges the Supreme Court to grant the petitions for writ of certiorari filed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Danco and reverse the recent decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
The Fifth Circuit’s decision would override the FDA’s recent moves to increase access to mifepristone and re-impose draconian dispensing and prescribing restrictions. These medically unnecessary restrictions would likely impede access to mifepristone. For example, the Fifth Circuit’s decision, if affirmed, could legally require that mifepristone be dispensed in person, potentially blocking mifepristone by mail.
The brief explains, from the expert perspective of physicians, how the Fifth Circuit’s decision threatens to endanger the health of patients across the country. Uniquely, this brief provides first-hand accounts from physicians across practice areas describing how they and their patients rely on mifepristone and why they oppose medically unnecessary restrictions on access. The physicians affirm that mifepristone is safe and effective for abortion care and the management of early pregnancy loss (miscarriage). The physicians warn that restricting access to mifepristone could jeopardize physicians’ ability to provide safe and effective health care, undermine the patient-physician relationship, and impose upon some doctors an unacceptable choice between compliance with their ethical obligations and compliance with the law.
“Unnecessarily restricting access to a therapy with decades of data proving its safety and efficacy would not only hurt our patients–but also the very institutions we trust. The FDA is the body mandated to make decisions about the safety of therapies–not a judge. As a doctor, I know that my patients who need access to evidence-based treatments take the decision seriously—I wish these judges could do the same,” says Meghana Rao, MD, President of Doctors for America.
“We support the authority and expertise of the FDA to make determinations about the safety and use of mifepristone as they do for all prescribed medical therapeutics. Abortion care should not be treated any differently. Allowing judicial opinion to override FDA expertise in reviewing scientific data and setting policy guidelines is an alarming precedent for all approved and new drug,” says Elizabeth Garner, MD, MPH, President of the American Medical Women’s Association
The brief filed in the Supreme Court can be found here. DFA’s previous briefs filed in Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine v. FDA can be found here (Fifth Circuit, May 2023), here (U.S. Supreme Court of the United States, April 2023), here (Fifth Circuit, April 2023), and here (U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, February 2023).
The brief was prepared by the Columbia Law School Science, Health & Information Clinic (SHIC). SHIC provides pro bono legal help to DFA and the RHC. Columbia Law student attorneys Cindy Chen, Emily Davidson, Angela Kang, Priscilla Kim, Rubí Rodriguez, and Matt Tracy led work on the brief, with the support of SHIC Director Christopher Morten and Dallas attorney Thomas Leatherbury.