Pro-life groups praised the Supreme Court for restoring a federal prohibition against at-home abortions.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday overruled lower-court decisions blocking Food and Drug Administration requirements that patients obtain abortion drugs in person. Mallory Quigley, vice president of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, said that clinics exploited the coronavirus pandemic to increase business amid lockdowns, encouraging the self-administered abortions that pro-choice advocates once characterized as dangerous "back-alley" procedures.
"The pro-abortion lobby has consistently sought to further jeopardize the health and safety of women by pushing deregulation of dangerous abortion drugs," Quigley said. "Planned Parenthood and the abortion lobby even sought to exploit the COVID-19 pandemic to push abortion by mail, promoting DIY abortion at home, upping the risk of serious complications."
The Supreme Court's ruling, decided by a 6-3 margin, stated that the lower courts should not have intervened to overturn the decision-making process of a federal agency devoted to public health issues.
Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that, in his view, "courts owe significant deference to the politically accountable entities with the 'background, competence, and expertise to assess public health.'"
Opponents to medication-induced abortions argued that facilitating remote access could lead to misuse of the drug without sufficient medical oversight and that the drug could potentially be used to end pregnancies unknowingly. Katie Glenn, a lawyer at Americans United for Life, said the regulation would protect women against coercive abortions.
"Removing the in-person dispensing requirement increased the risk of serious health complications and the likelihood that the drug would be misused," Glenn said.
Justice Elena Kagan joined Justice Sonia Sotomayor in a dissent. The pair criticized the FDA's policy for imposing "an unnecessary, unjustifiable, irrational, and undue burden on women seeking an abortion during the current pandemic."
Planned Parenthood echoed this criticism and called on the Biden administration to reverse the policy.
"Forcing patients to travel unnecessarily to a health center and risk COVID-19 exposure in order to access safe medication abortion is dangerous and serves only to create more barriers to care, especially for people of color and people with low incomes," the organization said in a statement.
Carol Tobias, president of National Right to Life, said the FDA's decision will help the agency maintain its control over the sale of abortion drugs. Current policies restrict the ability to sell abortion drugs to FDA-approved sellers.
"We are pleased that the U.S. Supreme Court recognizes the serious nature of chemical abortions and the need for the FDA to have protocols in place to protect women from potentially life-threatening and devastating side effects," Tobias said in a statement.