Abortion pill maker asks U.S. Supreme Court to stop curbs on access to drug

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By Andrew Chung

WASHINGTON - Danco Laboratories, the manufacturer of the abortion pill mifepristone, on Friday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to block limits set by lower courts on access to the drug in a challenge by anti-abortion groups.

Danco filed an emergency request asking the justices to put on hold a ruling by U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk in Texas to significantly restrict the pill's distribution while litigation in the challenge proceeds. U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said on Thursday that President Joe Biden's administration also will seek emergency relief from the high court as the federal government moves to defend access to the mifepristone.

Curbing access to mifepristone would deal another major setback to U.S. abortion rights on the national level after the Supreme Court in June 2022 overturned the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that had legalized the procedure across the country. The Supreme Court has a 6-3 conservative majority.

Kacsmaryk's order - a preliminary injunction - was set to take effect at 12 a.m. CDT (0500 GMT) on Saturday, according to the Justice Department.

In a case that could also undercut the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's authority to decide on the safety of drugs, the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday declined the administration's request to block the restrictions ordered by Kacsmaryk on April 7.

The 5th Circuit halted another part of Kacsmaryk's order that would have suspended the FDA's approval of the drug, effectively pulling it off the market.

The restrictions set by the lower courts would restore curbs on the medication that had been lifted since 2016 as the FDA steadily expanded access. These revived restrictions include a requirement for three in-person doctor visits in order to obtain it and limiting its use to the first seven weeks of pregnancy, down from the current 10.

(Reporting by Andrew Chung in New York; Editing by Will Dunham)

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