Amid Court Challenge, Cantwell Joins Resolution Supporting Abortion Medication Mifepristone

Cantwell: “Medication abortion is safe and effective, despite ongoing litigation led by anti-choice crusaders”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Friday, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) joined a resolution expressing support for the abortion medication mifepristone and calling for the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the drug to be respected.

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court announced it will review a lower court ruling that would restrict access to mifepristone nationwide -- including in states like Washington that have expressly codified the right to an abortion into law.

"The evidence overwhelmingly demonstrates that medication abortion is safe and effective, despite ongoing litigation led by anti-choice crusaders,” Sen. Cantwell said. "The FDA approved mifepristone over twenty years ago, and studies show the medication causes fewer complications than Tylenol. More than half of the abortions provided in Washington state are medication abortions. Patients must be able to access necessary health care without undue interference or harassment."

The resolution was led by U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and cosponsored by 38 other senators.

In the aftermath of the Dobbs v. Jackson decision, access to medication abortion is more vital for patients than ever. The safety and efficacy of mifepristone and misoprostol -- the other drug often used in conjunction with it for abortions -- have been affirmed time and again by scientific evidence, research, and clinical experience. In addition to the case currently coming before the Supreme Court, anti-choice activists have also enacted bans and medically unnecessary restrictions on medication abortion in a number of states.

In March, Sen. Cantwell joined a letter sent to seven major pharmacy chains, urging them to protect access to medication abortion. This year Sen. Cantwell has also joined multiple amicus briefs regarding Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine v. FDA, which threatens access to mifepristone for patients nationwide – including in states like Washington that have expressly codified the right to an abortion into law – as well as FDA’s Congressionally-mandated authority and drug approval process.

Since last year’s leaked draft opinion indicated the Supreme Court’s intent to overturn the reproductive care precedent established under Roe v. Wade, Sen. Cantwell has been focused on protecting abortion access and choice for women across the country. In March 2023, Sen. Cantwell joined Sen. Murray in reintroducing the Women’s Health Protection Act and hosting a roundtable discussion on the path forward to defend Americans’ reproductive rights.  

In April, Sen. Cantwell joined U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and 25 other colleagues in reintroducing the Let Doctors Provide Reproductive Health Care Act, which would ban anti-choice states from restricting or preventing health care providers from performing legal abortions. 

In May, Sen. Cantwell joined 12 Senate colleagues in reintroducing the My Body, My Data Act to protect personal reproductive health data.  

Also in May, Sen. Cantwell joined 29 Senate colleagues to introduce the Protecting Service Members and Military Families’ Access to Health Care Act, legislation that would codify the Department of Defense’s policy to help service members and their families access non-covered reproductive health care – including abortion services – regardless of the state in which they are stationed.  

In June, Sen. Cantwell joined colleagues in reintroducing the Right to Contraception Act to codify the right to contraception access established by the Supreme Court ruling Griswold v. Connecticut in 1965. The same month, Sen. Cantwell cosponsored the Freedom to Travel for Health Care Act to ban anti-choice states from penalizing or prosecuting health care providers that offer reproductive services in states where abortion care is legal.

Also in June, Sen. Cantwell released a snapshot report about the impact of the Dobbs decision on abortion providers and patients in Washington state.  Her reported included new data showing substantial increases in out-of-state abortion patients, especially from Idaho, in the first half of 2023 compared to the same time period in 2022.

In July, Sen. Cantwell joined 46 colleagues in writing to Secretary Becerra to urge HHS to adopt stronger privacy regulations for Americans’ protected health information, including a warrant requirement for the release of medical records in the reviewed Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) privacy rule regulation.  These protections are particularly important because 19 Republican attorneys general – including Idaho’s Raúl Labrador – sent a public comment to Secretary Becerra strongly opposing the Department of Health and Human Services’ revised HIPAA protections. If successful, their opposition would make it easier for courts in Idaho to investigate abortions performed in Washington state and prosecute patients and providers.  This is alarming in light of the findings in Sen. Cantwell’s snapshot report showing increases in out-of-state abortion patients in Washington.