In its first abortion-related ruling since Justice Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed to its bench, the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated a federal rule that requires women seeking to chemically end an unborn child's life to pick up the pill in person from a medical facility.
The decision was an unsigned ruling, supported by the five conservative members of the high court, as well as Chief Justice John Roberts. Roberts commented that the decision merely deferred to the wisdom of experts and was limited in scope.
"Here as in related contexts concerning the government responses to the pandemic, my view is that the courts owe significant deference to the politically accountable entities with the ‘background, competence and expertise to assess public health,'" Roberts wrote.
In other words, Roberts said the case was not so much about a "woman's right to an abortion" as it was whether a federal judge should have questioned the advice of the Food and Drug Administration.
The Supreme Court's three liberal justices dissented, with Justices Sonya Sotomayor and Elena Kagan blasting the decision.
"The F.D.A.'s in-person requirements (for picking up the abortion drugs in person) during the pandemic not only treats abortion exceptionally, it imposes an unnecessary, irrational and unjustifiable undue burden on women seeking to exercise their right to choose," the pair wrote.
Sotomayor expressed her hope that the government would reconsider the rule to "exhibit greater care and empathy for women" who want to abort their children.