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Supreme Court to hear abortion pill arguments in March

The Supreme Court will hear arguments on March 26 in a case that could limit the availability of the common abortion pill mifepristone.

The justices will hear an appeal from the Biden administration and the maker of the branded version of mifepristone asking the high court to reverse a ruling from a federal appeals court that significantly curtailed access to the pill, even in states where abortion remains fully legal.

The restrictions include banning the pills from being sent through the mail and shortening the window in which mifepristone can be used to terminate pregnancies from the current 10 weeks to seven weeks gestation.

About half of all abortions nationwide are performed using mifepristone as the first of a two-pill regimen, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive rights research and advocacy group. It is also used to help manage miscarriages.

While the Supreme Court’s 6-3 conservative majority overturned Roe v. Wade and has appeared hostile to abortion, an emergency ruling by the court in April has kept access to mifepristone unchanged.

The justices rejected a separate appeal from abortion opponents who challenged the Food and Drug Administration’s initial approval of mifepristone as safe and effective in 2000.

The availability of abortion pills has made it more difficult for conservative state leaders to enforce state restrictions on abortion because people can order them through mail-order pharmacies or travel out of state to obtain them.

Abortion rights advocates argue that availability is one of the primary reasons leaders in the anti-abortion movement have targeted the drugs and fear that no matter what the Supreme Court rules, a Republican administration will try to eliminate access to them nationwide.

Monday’s scheduling announcement was made as part of the court’s March session calendar.

The week before the mifepristone argument, the high court on March 18 will hear a social media censorship case brought against the Biden administration, concerning whether White House officials who contacted social media companies urging them to remove specific content violated the First Amendment.

The administration argued it was trying to curb misinformation online, particularly about the COVID-19 vaccine. GOP leaders of Missouri and Louisiana, who brought the challenge, contend the contacts amount to an unconstitutional “campaign of censorship” by the government.

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