Why the Supreme Court’s Mifepristone Ruling Matters for Latinas in Maryland

Why the Supreme Court’s Mifepristone Ruling  Matters for Latinas in Maryland

Image by Mark Thomas from Pixabay

The Supreme Court’s decision to dismiss the Federal Drug Administration v. Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine case marks a direct rebuttal of the challenging of scientific and political authority in the pharmaceutical sector. AHM attempted to use the argument of “legal standing” claiming “personal injury” to their affiliates who, despite conscientious objections, are encouraged to provide abortion medication and information.

They sought stricter restrictions on mifepristone, advocating for a rollback to the 2011 program, which would have eliminated mailed prescriptions, an end to pharmacy dispensing, and the reinstatement of in-person physician approval. Mifepristone, an FDA-approved pharmaceutical for medication abortions and miscarriage care, underscores its critical role in reproductive healthcare. According to a 2022 Guttmacher Institute study, medication abortions accounted for 54% of all abortions in the United States, highlighting the profound impact of this case on women’s healthcare choices.

For Latinos in Maryland, this ruling is bittersweet. While we are relieved that scientific authority has triumphed over ideology, the case highlights the significant threat politicized health policies pose to the well-being of Latino communities. If the case had been considered, it could have reinstated disparities that were previously mitigated by the 2016 and 2021 reforms.

Latinos in Maryland would have faced a disproportionate impact from these proposed restrictions. Despite their growing numbers, Latino representation among healthcare providers remains critically low. Coupled with the community’s high rates of uninsurance and Spanish as a prevalent second language, accessing equitable and acceptable healthcare is already an uphill battle. The reliance on in-person physician prescriptions highlights the urgent need for consistent primary care, sufficient funding, and culturally competent providers. Latinos increasingly depend on telehealth services and mail-based prescriptions, so any rollback would significantly hinder their access to vital medications like mifepristone.

For all pregnant people, but especially Latinos, this persecution of mifepristone presents a greater risk for anyone with comorbidities. Mifepristone is often used for miscarriage management, which affects up to 30% of all pregnancies. Latinas, compared to other racial and ethnic groups, have many of the risk factors associated with miscarriage, including gestational hypertension, obesity, and untreated kidney failure. While mifepristone may be readily used for abortion care, we must not forget the safety it guarantees for those with an unintended pregnancy loss.

Fortunately, states like Maryland have taken proactive measures to safeguard reproductive care, including mifepristone access. Maryland has codified the right to abortion, allocated public funds for related procedures, and passed interstate shield laws to protect doctors performing abortions on out-of-state patients. As Governor Moore aptly put it, “reproductive freedom is non-negotiable.”

However, beyond this immediate threat to our community, we must consider how far this meritless case got in the courts and the dangerous precedent it sets for all innovation and technological advancement. AHM’s argument was rooted in the ideological argument that the existing clinical trial evidence was not adequate to have allowed for the release of mifepristone. In the 5th Circuit ruling that prompted Supreme Court consideration, 15 years of data were dismissed and years of REMS reform were overruled due to personal conscientious objection.

Although (alarmingly) there are other pending cases to increase private objection to federal agency authority like Corner Post v. Federal Reserve, Loper v. Raimondo, and Relentless v. Department of Commerce, this was a striking offense against the FDA’s right to authorize the “safety, efficacy, and security” of a drug. The reporting and surveillance that AHM sought for mifepristone are unprecedented and could set a chilling precedent for any medication on the market or in development.

While we are relieved that the politicization of drug development was not codified, the case’s reach is proof that no medication on the market, in the pipeline, or not yet conceived, is safe from persecution. This ruling maintained the status quo, but the very real threat it posed to millions of lives and years of health advancement should not and cannot be overlooked.







Marcos Montoya Andrade and Lauren Meraz are current Research and Policy Fellows at the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), the largest and oldest Latino civil rights organization in the U.S. Both are undergraduate students at Brown University, with Lauren studying Economics and Latin American and Caribbean Studies, and Marcos studying Economics and Public Policy.

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