WASHINGTON (OSV News) — A majority of Americans say the abortion drug mifepristone should remain on the market in the U.S., according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll, as the drug remains at the center of an ongoing legal battle.
The poll found that 66% of U.S. adults said mifepristone should remain on the market, while 24% said it should be taken off. Just under half — 47% — said access to mifepristone should remain status quo; while 12% say it should remain on the market but with additional restrictions in place, while 11% offered no opinion.
The U.S. Supreme Court said April 21 it would block a lower court’s restrictions on an abortion pill, leaving the drug on the market while litigation over the drug proceeds. The high court froze a lower court’s ruling to stay the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the drug. The Justice Department and Danco Laboratories, a pharmaceutical company that manufactures the abortion pill mifepristone, previously asked the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene in the case after an appeals court allowed portions of an earlier ruling by U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk in Texas to take effect.
A coalition of pro-life opponents of mifepristone, the first of two drugs used in a medication or chemical abortion, had filed suit in an effort to revoke the FDA’s approval of the drug, arguing the government acted in violation of its own safety standards when it first approved the drug in 2000. But proponents argued mifepristone poses statistically little risk to women using it for abortion early in pregnancy, and claim the drug is being singled out for political reasons. A study by the Guttmacher Institute, which supports legal abortion, found that more than half of U.S. abortions in 2020 were medication abortions.
The Supreme Court’s decision maintains the status quo for the drug while the case plays out.
But Kristi Hamrick, vice president of media and policy for Students for Life Action, found cause for optimism in the results of the new poll, telling OSV News that “if you break down the poll, the concerns over chemical abortion pills are growing.”
“When Students for Life first prioritized chemical abortion pills, people knew little about them and couldn’t see the threat to young women,” Hamrick said. “Today, that poll says that less than half want the pills on the market while a large number want them gone or restricted.”
Hamrick argued that even those who are pro-abortion could still have concerns about an “online, no-test distribution of a deadly cocktail that exposes women to injury, infertility, death, and abusers,” which she said is “worrying more and more women.”
An April poll conducted by CRC Research for Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America found that “62% feel not very confident (26%) or not at all confident (35%) in the claim that the abortion pill is safe after being on the market for two decades, when they know that the FDA tracks no side effects other than death,” the pro-life group said.
Also in April, GenBioPro, which makes the generic version of mifepristone, sued the FDA seeking to block it from complying if the courts ultimately pull the drug off the market, an additional layer to the case.
Additional lawsuits in other states may also impact whether the drug remains available as well. Washington State has sought to block the Texas ruling. GenBioPro has also sued West Virginia over its state ban on mifepristone, arguing it violates the commerce clause of the Constitution.
The Supreme Court’s action returned the case to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which is scheduled to hear arguments on May 17.
Kate Scanlon is a national reporter for OSV News covering Washington. Follow her on Twitter @kgscanlon.