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House Democrats to introduce bill to shore up abortion pill access after Texas ruling

The bill would reaffirm the FDA's final approval authority on medication abortion, although it's unlikely the legislation will pass the GOP-controlled House.
Rep. Pat Ryan, D-N.Y.,  in New Windsor, N.Y., Nov. 2, 2022.
Rep. Pat Ryan, D-N.Y., in New Windsor, N.Y., in November.Hans Pennink / AP file

WASHINGTON — Democratic lawmakers are mobilizing in the wake of the decision in Texas that threw access to the so-called abortion pill into flux Friday, introducing legislation Monday to protect access to the most widely used form of abortion in the U.S.

Reps. Pat Ryan of New York and Lizzie Fletcher of Texas will introduce the Protecting Reproductive Freedom Act on Monday during a pro forma session of the House, seeking to reaffirm the Food and Drug Administration’s final approval authority on medication abortion and continue to allow providers to prescribe the abortion pill via telehealth, which was widely expanded during the coronavirus pandemic. 

“The Texas decision has nothing to do with science or medicine and everything to do with radical groups whose only goal is a national abortion ban,” said Ryan, who credits wins in his swing district in New York state in part to his stance on abortion rights. “My priority is protecting abortion access for women in New York and across the country.”

Fletcher, who called her state, Texas, “the epicenter of attacks on the health and freedom of Americans,” said “the unprecedented district court decision, which, if enforced, would be devastating to women and families across our country and to our established drug-approval system.” 

It’s yet another move from congressional Democrats to send a message about the issue of reproductive access, despite the unlikelihood that the legislation will ever pass the GOP-controlled House. Nevertheless, Democrats will continue to keep the focus on abortion access — especially after having seen its power across the country in the 2022 midterms. 

The bill comes days after a Trump-appointed district judge in Texas put the FDA’s approval of mifepristone on hold more than 20 years after its initial acceptance and despite its being the most widely used abortion method in the country. The Biden administration appealed the decision, ensuring the issue remains in limbo. But a federal court in Washington state issued a contradictory opinion Friday, as well, requiring that the first of two pills taken in medication abortion remain available in states without restrictions on it.