Washington congressional delegation weighs in on Supreme Court abortion ruling

Democratic U.S. Sens. Maria Cantwell, left, and Patty Murray of Washington

On Friday, the Supreme Court ruled to restore federal approval of mifepristone, an abortion pill that more than 5 million women have used to terminate their pregnancies.

The Food and Drug Administration approved mifepristone use in 2000. Health experts have deemed the drug safe and effective, but abortion opponents had been fighting to restrict or ban the drug since the overruling of Roe v. Wade last June.

Last week, 239 members of Congress signed an amicus brief to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals — a federal court which recently ruled to limit access to mifepristone — asking the court not to interfere with the Food and Drug Administration’s historical approval of the drug.

Among the signatures fighting for abortion access: U.S. Rep. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez, D-Skamania, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash.

“Reproductive care is already scarce in rural communities like mine,” Perez said in a press release. “A ban on mifepristone will only make that worse not just in rural areas, but across the country. I’m fighting to make sure everyone has access to the safe reproductive care they need and can make decisions about their own bodies.”

Sen. Murray, one of 10 members of Congress who led the initiative, pushed for access to the abortion pill in the early days of the pandemic. In a press release, she said that the federal court ruling “isn’t about science — it’s about ideology.”

“Overruling FDA’s experts and seeking to pull mifepristone from the shelves has nothing to do with the science or with safety—which has long been settled—and everything to do with ripping away every woman’s most basic right to control her own body,” she wrote.

Sen. Murray also wrote that rolling back approval of the abortion pill would force pregnant women to seek alternative, harmful abortion methods, and would push doctors into steep legal battles.

Sen. Cantwell, who joined Murray in introducing the Women’s Health Protection Act in March, has also sponsored several initiatives to protect abortion rights, such as the Right to Contraception Act.

“More than half of all abortions are performed using medication abortion,” Cantwell said in a press release. “This ruling will affect abortion care in the State of Washington, where a majority of citizens voted to protect abortion rights over 30 years ago.”

— Carlos Fuentes

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