WASHINGTON, D.C. [6/23/22]—Today, U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.) introduced a bill to defend access to medication abortion in states where the right to an abortion is still protected. The bill would protect current FDA guidelines so that women can always access medication abortion through telehealth and certified pharmacies, including mail-order pharmacies.
Of the one in four American women who will have an abortion, over half will use medication abortion. In the 20 years since its approval, the evidence has shown that medication abortion can be prescribed to patients without an in-person appointment, is safe and effective for people to take in their own homes, and can be sent through the mail. But right now, extremist Republican lawmakers are attacking access to medication abortion and states have imposed restrictions that contradict scientific evidence. Republican efforts are undermining the ability of women to access proven, safe, and effective reproductive health care.
Senator Smith’s Protecting Access to Medication Abortion Act would codify the FDA’s current guidelines so that women can always access medication abortion through telehealth and certified pharmacies, including mail-order pharmacies.
“By attacking and undermining access to a safe and effective medication, Republicans are saying that government – not women, not their health care providers – should control the health care that doctors provide women,” said Sen. Smith. “We need to fight back against Republican efforts to chip away at women’s reproductive freedoms. That’s why I introduced this bill: to protect access to medication abortion. It is a critical step that we must take in order to help protect what remaining access will exist to reproductive health care after abortion is criminalized in many parts of this country.”
The Protecting Access to Medication Abortion Act would defend access to medication abortion in States where the right to an abortion is still protected by protecting the current mifepristone Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS) so that women can always access medication abortion through telehealth and certified pharmacies, including mail-order pharmacies. It is a critical step to help protect what remaining access exists to safe and effective reproductive health care in a post-Roe world.
You can access a summary of the bill here and read more about the bill below.
By Ali Vitali
June 23, 2022
WASHINGTON — Sen. Tina Smith, D-Minn., will introduce a new bill Thursday that aims to shore up access to abortion pills in states that have not yet restricted access, focusing on codifying current regulatory and usage language around the drugs at a time when many reproductive rights advocates believe they are the next to face restrictions across the country.
“We are on the precipice of the Supreme Court taking away protections for abortion,” Smith told NBC. “We’re doing everything we can to provide layers of protection.”
Smith’s bill, reported first by NBC News, would keep current Food and Drug Administration standards in place around prescribing mifepristone and other related drugs that end early pregnancies, up to 10 weeks. Setting these standards in advance, advocates say, would make it harder for states to chip away at access to this abortion method.
But the bill faces a steep climb in the Senate, where a bipartisan group of senators rejected a bill, the Women’s Health Protection Act, that would have codified the protections of the landmark Roe versus Wade decision as the national standard. Smith’s bill is likely to face the same fate.
Asked about this, Smith allowed: “The realities in the Senate are the realities in the Senate. We don’t have the votes right now.”
It now comes as the country awaits a hotly-anticipated Supreme Court decision on abortion access that has Roe directly in its crosshairs. That decision could come in June or July from the nation’s highest court.
Smith was one of more than twenty senators, led by Democrats Elizabeth Warren and Patty Murray, who signed onto a letter demanding the Biden administration move on several executive actions, including bolstering protections for the abortion pill. The White House has signaled an openness to executive actions, but the federal government is limited in what it can do. Most of the future battles for reproductive access will happen at the state level.
Nevertheless, Democrats will huddle Thursday for a special caucus lunch centered on the issue of reproductive health. Senators Warren, Murray, and Tim Kaine of Virginia will lead the discussion, which, in the words of one aide, is meant to get “everyone on the same page” ahead of the SCOTUS decision.