HOUSTON — Now that the future of the abortion medication mifepristone is in the hands of the courts, a Texas-based U.S. lawmaker is seeking a legislative solution.
Congresswoman Lizzie Fletcher introduced the Protecting Reproductive Freedom Act to protect access to mifepristone.
The Houston Democrat says the effort to invalidate the abortion pill is part of an ongoing effort to take away freedom and a woman’s right to make her own decisions.
“We’re talking about a safe and effective medication. So, really what this is is about making it more difficult for women to access the healthcare that they need. And don’t forget, this is an important medication for women who are having miscarriages,” Fletcher said on Inside Texas Politics.
A federal judge in Texas invalidated the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval of the abortion pill mifepristone altogether, an approval which first came more than two decades ago.
That put access to the pill, which is used in more than half of all abortions in the country, at severe risk.
Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk also ruled that shipping the abortion medication may violate a 150-year-old law known as the Comstock Act that prohibits the mailing of drugs or medicine intended to cause an abortion.
After an appeals court kept key parts of the ruling intact, the Department of Justice sought emergency relief from the U.S. Supreme Court.
And just before nationwide access to mifepristone was blocked last week, Justice Samuel Alito issued an administrative stay until Wednesday, April 19. This allows the justices to hear more responses before making a decision on a stay pending appeal. They’re also being asked to expedite the matter.
Congresswoman Fletcher’s legislation would reaffirm that the FDA appropriately approved mifepristone. And beyond that, the bill would preempt any state law seeking to prohibit or restrict access to the abortion medication.
“Even though the 5th Circuit stay provides some immediate relief, it really reinforces some dubious legal arguments, it undermines drug approval at the FDA which creates chaos across the board, and of course, it limits access to mifepristone to the Americans who need it," Fletcher said.