RELEASE: Gottheimer, Crockett, Craig Introduce “Freedom to Decide Act” to Combat Abortion Pill Ban

Supporting Telemedicine for Abortion Pill Access. Supporting Access to Mifepristone Via Mail and Across State Lines. Endorsed by Planned Parenthood, NARAL, National Women’s Law Center, & Center for Reproductive Rights.

Apr 14, 2023
Press

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, April 14, 2023, U.S. Representatives Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5), Jasmine Crockett (TX-30), and Angie Craig (MN-2) introduced new legislation — the Freedom to Decide Act — to protect doctor-prescribed access to the abortion pill mifepristone and support telemedicine across state lines, so doctors can prescribe the abortion pill wherever women are in need of health care. 

The Freedom to Decide Act affirms that access to mifepristone does not violate federal law and that it is essential to protecting the fundamental right for all women to make personal, private health care decisions about their own bodies, lives, and futures.

The Freedom to Decide Act is endorsed by Planned Parenthood, NARAL Pro-Choice America, the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC), and the Center for Reproductive Rights. Find the legislative text of the Freedom to Decide Act here.

This new legislation comes following a decision by a Texas district court last week to strike down the FDA’s approval of an abortion pill, known as mifepristone. This ruling overturned the judgment of medical experts and threatens to block access to this medication in every state in the country.

Mifepristone is a safe and effective pill that has been available for more than two decades, and is approved in nearly 80 countries. This pill has been thoroughly studied by the FDA’s medical experts who have found that it is safe to be prescribed, including via telemedicine, and delivered to the patient via mail or pharmacy pickup.

“This drug, like all others that are approved by the FDA, went through a thorough, rigorous approval process in 2000, and it was approved because it is completely safe. We also know that the FDA was right because this has been used for twenty years and proven safe. Rather than trust science and doctors, far-right extremists continue to insert themselves into women’s personal and private medical decisions by any means necessary,” said Rep. Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) a member of the Pro-Choice Caucus. “The Freedom to Decide Act affirms what we all know: access to mifepristone does not violate federal law and that it is essential to protecting the fundamental right for all women to make personal, private health care decisions about their own bodies, lives, and futures.”

“Following the Dobbs decision overturning Roe v. Wade, we have seen court after court attempt to strip away access to safe, effective abortion treatment and reproductive health care. In response to the Fifth Circuit’s order to largely deny a stay of the District Court’s decision in Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine v. FDA, it is clear Congress needs to reaffirm federal protections for access to medications like mifepristone. That is why I am proud to introduce this resolution with Rep. Gottheimer to affirm the DOJ Office of Legal Counsel’s interpretation and understanding of the Comstock Act—specifically, that the law does not prohibit the mailing of drugs used for reproductive care and abortions where the sender lacks the intent that the recipient of the drugs will use them unlawfully. Any other interpretation conflicts with how this law has been interpreted and implemented for nearly a century, and cannot be allowed to stand,” said Rep. Jasmine Crockett (TX-30), a member of the Pro-Choice Caucus.

“The evidence is clear: medication abortion is safe and effective. This is supported by decades of rigorous scientific analysis and review. Republicans’ relentless attacks on reproductive rights are outrageous and fueled by ideological extremism. This is an assault on the privacy and freedom of families across our nation and sets a dangerous precedent for a court to overturn the FDA. That’s why I’m working to affirm the federal government’s right to approve and protect access to medication abortion services,” said Rep. Angie Craig (MN-2), a member of the Pro-Choice Caucus.

“Medication abortion is under attack by extremists in the courts and in legislatures nationwide. NARAL is proud to endorse the Freedom to Decide Act, which would affirm the importance of access to medication abortion. We thank Reps. Gottheimer, Crockett, and Craig for their leadership and urge anyone who cares about our rights and freedoms to join them in supporting this bill,” said NARAL Pro-Choice America Vice President of Communications and Research Angela Vasquez-Giroux.

“Anti-abortion extremists are using every tactic at their disposal to strip us of our reproductive freedom and access to health—including even trying to limit what medications we can get through the mail. We thank Rep. Gottheimer for his resolution that fights for abortion access and our reproductive freedom,” said Planned Parenthood Federation of America Vice President of Public Policy & Government Relations Karen Agostisi Stone.

Find the legislative text for the Freedom to Decide Act here and below.

CONCURRENT RESOLUTION

Expressing support for access to medication abortion in the United States.

Whereas all people have a fundamental right to make personal, private health care decisions about their own bodies, lives, and futures;

Whereas access to medication abortion is essential to protecting that fundamental right and does not violate Federal law, as confirmed by the December 23, 2022 Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel Memorandum Opinion entitled ‘‘Application of the Comstock Act to the Mailing of Prescription Drugs That Can Be Used for Abortions’’;

Whereas telehealth services for medication abortion are safe and dramatically improve accessibility of reproductive health care services; and

Whereas the drug mifepristone was appropriately approved under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (21 U.S.C. 301 et seq.): 

Now, therefore, be it resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring),

It is the sense of Congress to—

(1) affirm the existing authority to distribute medication abortion under Federal law, as confirmed by the December 23, 2022 Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel Memorandum Opinion for the General Counsel of the United States Postal Service which states in part that ‘‘Section 1461 of title 18 of the U.S. Code does not prohibit the mailing of certain drugs that can be used to perform abortions where the sender lacks the intent that the recipient of the drugs will use them unlawfully.’’; and 

(2) condemn restrictions on access to and coverage of reproductive health care, including medication abortion like mifepristone.

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