After Texas Court Ruling on Mifepristone, Pingree Calls for Urgent Action to Protect Medication Abortion
Legislation cosponsored by Maine’s First Congresswoman would protect FDA guidelines to ensure medication abortion remains available through telehealth and certified pharmacies, including mail-order pharmacies
Washington, April 7, 2023
Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) says a Texas judge’s ruling in Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine v. U.S. Food and Drug Administration demands Congress act to defend access to medication abortion across the country. Pingree has cosponsored the Protecting Access to Medication Abortion Act, introduced by Congresswoman Cori Bush (D-Mo.) and Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.), which would codify U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines allowing access to medication abortion.
“Medication abortion is safe, it is effective, and it is used by millions of patients across the country. To be clear, mifepristone remains available in Maine — but it’s clear that extreme rightwing jurists will stop at nothing to ban abortion across the country, no matter what protections exist in our state. We cannot and will not let them succeed,” said Pingree. “I will be closely following developments as this decision is appealed in the federal courts. Meanwhile, Congress must take action. The Protecting Access to Medication Abortion Act is a critical line of defense against the extreme attacks on women’s reproductive rights, and I am proud to be a cosponsor. Ultimately, we must also pass the Women’s Health Protection Act, which codifies the underlying right to an abortion.”
In Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine v. U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk’s decision would invalidate FDA’s September 2000 approval of mifepristone, which is a drug involved in medication abortion. The opinion is on hold for seven days to allow the federal government to appeal. If mifepristone is taken off the market, patients seeking abortions will be forced to have procedural abortions, give birth, or seek medication from outside the country. Despite Maine’s robust protections for reproductive rights, this ruling could impact access to abortion across the state.
Of the Planned Parenthood of Northern New England patients who end their pregnancies in the first 11 weeks, around 70 percent opt for a medication abortion. Since its FDA approval 23 years ago, evidence has shown that mifepristone can be prescribed to patients without an in-person appointment, is safe and effective for people to take in their own homes if they choose, and can be sent through the mail. But extremist Republican lawmakers have sought to block access to medication abortion and GOP-led states have imposed restrictions that contradict scientific evidence and take away women’s reproductive freedom. Republican efforts are undermining the ability of women to access proven, safe, and effective reproductive health care.
The Protecting Access to Medication Abortion Act would defend access to medication abortion by codifying the FDA’s current Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS) for mifepristone, which establishes guidelines for prescribing and dispensing the drug across the country, including through telehealth and certified pharmacies.
The legislation has been endorsed by the National Women’s Health Network, New Mexico Doula Association, Catholics for Choice, Black Mamas Matter Alliance, National Center for Lesbian Rights, Reproductive Health Access Project, Black Girls Vote, National Birth Equity Collaborative, Obstetricians for Reproductive Justice.
A summary of the bill is available here.