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Mifepristone Ruling, DCCC Poll Shows Abortion Is Center Stage In PA-01

Supreme Court

The Supreme Court rejected a challenge to the abortion pill mifepristone on Thursday, meaning the commonly used drug can remain widely available.

In a 9-0 decision, the Court found that the group of anti-abortion doctors who questioned the Food and Drug Administration’s decisions making it easier to access the pill did not have legal standing to sue.

Writing for the Court, Judge Brett Kavanaugh said that while the plaintiffs, made up of doctors and other medical professionals represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom, have “sincere legal, moral, ideological, and policy objections to elective abortion and to FDA’s relaxed regulation of mifepristone,” that does not mean they have a federal case.

Kavanaugh also indicated that the plaintiffs failed to show they had suffered any injury, meaning that “the federal courts are the wrong forum for addressing the plaintiffs’ concerns about FDA’s actions.”

By throwing out the case on such grounds, the court avoided reaching a decision on the legal merits of whether the FDA acted lawfully in lifting various restrictions, including one making the drug obtainable via mail, meaning the same issues could yet return to the court in another case.

“Today, we breathe a collective sigh of relief as our access to mifepristone – the most commonly used drug in medication abortion – was upheld by the US Supreme Court,” said Planned Parenthood PA Advocates Executive Director Signe Espinoza. “This is a win for reproductive health in the dark two years since the Dobbs decision. Our battle isn’t over, and we continue our fight to ensure everyone has access to the care they need and deserve.”

The debate over reproductive rights continues to hover over Pennsylvania’s decisions in the 2024 general election. Two Democratic congressional challengers – Ashley Ehasz (PA-01) and Janelle Stelson (PA-10) – have been vocal about their opponents’ anti-choice positions.

A Gallup poll shows a record-high 32 percent of U.S. voters say they would only vote for a candidate for major office who shares their views on abortion. The importance of a candidate’s abortion stance to one’s vote is markedly higher among pro-choice voters than it was during the 2020 presidential election cycle, while pro-life voters’ intensity about voting on the abortion issue has waned. Also, voters’ greater intensity on the issue today compared with 2020 is explained mainly by Democrats, while Republicans and independents have shown little change.

This is on display in the 1st Congressional District race between Ehasz and Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick. A DCCC Analytics poll showed that, after hearing brief balanced profiles of each candidate, the challenger trailed by five points, 49-44%. The pollsters then shared their message about Fitzpatrick’s “anti-choice” record and the numbers flipped in favor of Ehasz by seven points (50-43%).

According to the DCCC, just 2-in-5 respondents (40%) believed that Fitzpatrick would vote for a national abortion ban in the initial stages of the survey. After a single message about what he has voted for and campaigned on, the number jumped to 2-in-3 (68%).

Independents seemed to be most swayed by the additional statements, as 38 percent backed Ehasz, the Army veteran, prior to learning more. That number rose to 48 percent afterward – a 10 percent increase.

Democrats are hoping to flip the Bucks and Montgomery County seat using Fitzpatrick’s record on reproductive rights to their advantage.

Fitzpatrick has twice voted against the Women’s Health Protection Act, as well as to repeal parts of the Affordable Care Act that provided for reproductive health care. He also backed Mike Johnson (R-La.), who cosponsored legislation for a total national abortion ban, for Speaker of the House. Johnson once served as a former senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom — the conservative legal powerhouse behind the case that overturned Roe v. Wade – and backing the plaintiffs in today’s case.

On his website, Fitzpatrick does talk about empowering women, stating that he is a strong advocate for equal rights and that he co-led the long-term, bipartisan reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. When it comes to women’s health, however, the site does not indicate his stance on abortion or other reproductive rights, rather supporting a doubling of funding for women’s health at the NIH.

Although today can be considered a win for the Biden administration and reproductive rights proponents, the proverbial can has been kicked down the road. Anti-abortion advocates are eyeing state-level restrictions, pressure on pharmacy chains, possibly another legal challenge with stronger standing and especially a second term in the White House for Donald Trump and an administration where a new FDA head could withdraw mifepristone’s approval or a new attorney general might enforce the Comstock Act.

“Today, the Supreme Court did the bare minimum. It rejected a baseless attack on mifepristone by a group of anti-abortion physicians,” said Jenny Lawson, executive director of Planned Parenthood Votes. “But it sent this case back down to the same federal district court that tried to restrict mifepristone in the first place, which could allow this case to continue.

“But let’s be clear: We would not be here if it weren’t for Donald Trump,” she continued. “Donald Trump has proudly claimed responsibility for overturning Roe, and called it “a beautiful thing” as state after state bans abortion, he’s tried to defund Planned Parenthood, and he’s said that abortion patients should be punished. He paved the way for the current abortion access crisis and is responsible for every abortion ban and every patient who is suffering. This crisis fueled by Donald Trump does not improve with today’s ruling. That’s why Planned Parenthood Votes is working to defeat him and his anti-abortion allies this November.”


  • Reader Poll: Should President Joe Biden Step Aside?

    • Yes. He should step aside because of his age, declining ability to do the job. (45%)
    • No. He should not step aside. (39%)
    • Yes. He should step aside because he can't beat Donald Trump. (15%)

    Total Voters: 231

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