12.16.21

Senator Murray Statement on FDA Action Removing Barriers to Medication Abortion: “An Important Step Forward” But We Must Still Pass WHPA

(Washington, D.C.)–Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, released the following statement on the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) recent action removing barriers to accessing mifepristone, or medication abortion.

 

Mifepristone was approved by the FDA nearly 20 years ago—and significant scientific evidence, research, and clinical experience has affirmed that medication abortion is safe and effective. Today, the FDA has announced that following a review of the data showing a strong track record of safety and effectiveness, they are lifting some of the restrictions known as the Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy, or REMS. This change removes key barriers patients have long faced in accessing medication abortion, including ending a burdensome requirement that it be dispensed in-person in clinics, medical offices, or hospitals—and not in any pharmacies. The change will allow doctors to continue prescribing mifepristone via telehealth visits and allow patients to receive the medication via the mail as well as in-person, including at pharmacies.

 

“For too long, patients have had to jump through burdensome hoops just to get medication abortion that we know is safe and effective. For some women, that’s meant finding time off from work or finding child care to travel long distances to a clinic, and being harassed as they enter the provider’s facility—all to take a pill that is safe to take at home. It’s unacceptable, it’s unnecessary, and it’s having real impacts on patients’ health. That’s why I’m so relieved that today the experts at the FDA are lifting some of these restrictions and making it easier for patients to get and take medication abortion. This is an important step forward to ensure that patients can actually exercise their right to abortion—without harmful restrictions. I will be monitoring implementation of these new policies to ensure patients can access the health care they need.

 

“But we can’t lose sight that despite the FDA’s decision, state laws—including in Texas—still ban access to medication abortion through telehealth or by mail, and will prevent patients from getting the health care they need. Extreme Republicans are willing to ignore the science and put their own ideology ahead of patients’ health—so we need to fight back. We must pass the Women’s Health Protection Act, to finally protect the right to abortion at the federal level.”

Senator Murray has long pushed to expand access to reproductive health care and protect the right to abortion. In 2020, Senator Murray led the push—alongside Senators Warren and Baldwin—to ease restrictions on medication abortion during the pandemic. The Senators highlighted how abortion is critical, time-sensitive health care—and that patients deserve to access it without any unnecessary barriers.

 

At a recent HELP hearing on the nomination of Dr. Robert Califf to lead the FDA, she also emphasized the science regarding mifepristone: “I do want to make clear mifepristone has a strong track record of safety and effectiveness. And when it comes to women’s health, I expect FDA’s decisions to be made based on science, just as I do all FDA’s decisions.”

 

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