Texas judge’s decision could make medication abortion – used by 55% of WA patients who terminate a pregnancy – unavailable nationwide
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) delivered a speech on the Senate floor warning of the consequences of a Texas court case that could effectively end medication abortion – even in Washington state, where voters codified the right to an abortion into law in 1991.
“The ruling would mean that in Washington state, where abortion [has] expressly been under our state law for 30 years, a person who needs or elects to terminate their pregnancy could no longer safely do it at home … This is eroding our rights. It’s impacting our providers. And it is basically telling young women, ‘we’re not sure if you’re going to [be] able to get access to this drug,’” Sen. Cantwell said.
This week, a U.S. District Judge in Texas is hearing a case brought by radical anti-abortion-rights activists. The activists are asking the judge to issue a preliminary order that would halt sales of the medication abortion drug mifepristone nationwide.
“This is not a way to run health care,” said Sen. Cantwell. “Let’s be clear, we’re not going to let a decision like this go unchallenged.”
Mifepristone is commonly used as part of a two-drug regimen used to terminate pregnancy. Health care providers can prescribe the drug in-person or via telehealth, and patients can complete the regimen at home. Of patients who choose to terminate a pregnancy in Washington state, 55% choose this method.
Some abortion clinics in Washington state only provide medication abortion as an option for abortion care. If the judge in the Texas case rules in favor of restricting mifepristone access, the share of counties in Washington state with an abortion provider would drop from 41% to 28%.
On Friday, March 10, Sen. Cantwell and Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) met with abortion providers at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Seattle. The Senators highlighted last week’s re-introduction of the Women’s Health Protection Act and heard from practitioners about the challenges their patients are facing.
As a longtime champion of reproductive rights, Sen. Cantwell intensified her push to protect health care access nationwide since the Supreme Court’s decision to rule against abortion access in Dobbs v. Jackson last year. In June, after a leaked draft opinion revealed the Supreme Court’s plans to overturn the established precedent set by Roe, Sen. Cantwell cosponsored the My Body, My Data Act to protect personal reproductive health data. In July, following a meeting with health care providers at the University of Washington Medical Center, 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. The same month, Sen. Cantwell also cosponsored the Right to Contraception Act, which would codify the right to contraception access established by the Supreme Court ruling Griswold v. Connecticut. Last week, Sen. Cantwell joined Sen. Murray in reintroducing the Women’s Health Protection Act.
Video of Sen. Cantwell’s floor speech is available HERE, audio HERE, and transcript HERE.