Oregon Lawmakers File Legal Brief to Support Oregonians' Access to Reproductive Health Care
Oregon’s U.S. Senator Ron Wyden last week led 148 Members of Congress, including Sen. Jeff Merkley, Rep. Earl Blumenauer, Rep. Peter DeFazio and Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, in filing a legal brief in a case challenging the in-person dispensing requirement of the abortion medication mifepristone during the COVID-19 public health emergency.
“Lifting the in-person requirements for mifepristone is consistent with various FDA and HHS actions that encourage and promote the use of telemedicine in lieu of in-person visits during the COVID-19 pandemic,” the lawmakers wrote in their brief. “Given that FDA does not require any medical counseling and eligibility assessments to be provided to the patient during in-person dispensing, there is no rational reason why patients who seek mifepristone to treat early miscarriages should not be afforded the same protections as those who need the drug for medication abortions.”
The legal brief in American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists v. United States Food and Drug Administration (ACOG v. FDA). The brief focuses on the extensive efforts by Congress to protect the public during the COVID-19 public health emergency and ensure that science and medical evidence guide access to medication abortion and miscarriage care. It argues that the court should affirm the preliminary injunction granted by the District Court, which lifted the in-person Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (“REMS”) requirements for mifepristone for early abortion use during the global pandemic, and that the court should also reverse the District Court’s decision to decline to extend the preliminary injunction to patients seeking mifepristone for the treatment of early pregnancy loss.
“Upholding mifepristone’s in-person REMS requirements during the COVID- 19 pandemic is at odds with public health guidance, statutory intent, and common sense—it is medically unnecessary, burdens patient access to mifepristone, and imposes irreparable harm to miscarriage and medication abortion patients and their medical providers. [The lawmakers] respectfully ask the Court to affirm the District Court’s decision granting a nationwide preliminary injunction on Plaintiffs-Appellees’ due process claim, and to reverse the District Court’s ruling on Plaintiffs-Appellees’ equal protection claim to reinstate urgently-needed relief for miscarriage and medication abortion patients and their medical providers during the pandemic,” the lawmakers continued.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government has suspended similar in-person requirements for other, less safe medications. Yet, the Trump administration ignored repeated calls by leading medical and public health authorities to do the same for mifepristone, continuing to treat patients seeking abortion and miscarriage care differently.
Joining Wyden in leading the brief were Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), and Reps. Barbara Lee (CA-13), Diana DeGette (CO-10), Jan Schakowsky (IL-9), Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), and Jerry Nadler (NY-10).
In the Senate, the brief was also joined by Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Michael F. Bennet (D-CO), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory A. Booker (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Bernard Sanders (D-VT), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Tina Smith (D-MN), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).
In the House, the brief was joined by Gwen Moore (WI-4), Grace Meng (NY-6), Alan Lowenthal (CA-47), Jackie Speier (CA-14), Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12), Andy Levin (MI-9), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Gerald E. Connolly (VA-11), Lois Frankel (FL-22), Deborah K. Ross (NC-2), Steve Cohen (TN-9), Adam Smith (WA-9), Jimmy Gomez (CA-34), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib (MI-13), Ilhan Omar (MN-5), Julia Brownley (CA-26), Dina Titus (NV-1), André Carson (IN-7), Brenda L. Lawrence (MI-14), Jerry McNerney (CA-9), Lizzie Fletcher (TX-7), Ro Khanna (CA-17), Susan Wild (PA-7), Nanette Diaz Barragán (CA-44), James P. McGovern (MA-2), Mark Pocan (WI-2), Peter Welch (D-VT), Mondaire Jones (NY-17), Jahana Hayes (CT-5), Katherine Clark (MA-5), Theodore E. Deutch (FL-22), Kathy Castor (FL-14), Mike Levin (CA-49), Sean Casten (IL-6), Jamaal Bowman, Ed.D., (NY-16), Madeleine Dean (PA-4), Linda T. Sánchez (CA-13), Judy Chu (CA-27), Ann McLane Kuster (NH-2), Daniel T. Kildee (MI-5), Anna G. Eshoo (CA-18), Scott H. Peters (CA-52), Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11), Bill Foster (IL-11), David N. Cicilline (RI-01), Marcy Kaptur (OH-9), Jamie Raskin (MD-8), Matthew Cartwright (PA-8), Yvette D. Clarke (NY-9), Lori Trahan (MA-3), Lisa Blunt Rochester (DE-At-large), Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Raúl M. Grijalva (AZ-3), Betty McCollum (MN-4), Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ-2), Mike Quigley (IL-5), Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12), Joyce Beatty (OH-3), Grace F. Napolitano (CA-32), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-23), Henry C. "Hank" Johnson, Jr. (GA-4), Ami Bera, M.D. (CA-7), Tom Malinowski (NJ-7), Doris Matsui (CA-6), Colin Allred (TX-32), Jim Cooper (TN-5), Rosa L. DeLauro (CT-3), Ed Perlmutter (CO-7), Alcee L. Hastings (FL-20), Danny K. Davis (IL-7), Ted W. Lieu (CA-33), Ruben Gallego (AZ-7), Brendan F. Boyle (PA-2), John B. Larson (CT-1), Nydia M. Velázquez (NY-7), Val Butler Demings (FL-10), Jake Auchincloss (MA-4), David E. Price (NC-4), Katie Porter (CA-45), Jason Crow (CO-6) Mark Takano (CA-41), Chellie Pingree (ME-1), Al Lawson (FL-5), Suzan DelBene (WA-1), Kim Schrier, M.D. (WA-8), Derek Kilmer (WA-6), Angie Craig (MN-2), Lloyd Doggett (TX-35), Cori Bush (MO-1), Kathleen M. Rice (NY-4), Mary Gay Scanlon (PA-5), Veronica Escobar (TX-16), Brad Sherman (CA-30), Raja Krishnamoorthi (IL-8), Sylvia R. Garcia (TX-29), Emanuel Cleaver, II (MO-5), Pramila Jayapal (WA-7), Sara Jacobs (CA-53), Norma J. Torres (CA-35), Darren Soto (FL-9), Ritchie Torres (NY-15), Tony Cárdenas (CA-29), Salud Carbajal (CA-24), Robert C. "Bobby" Scott (VA-3), Frederica S. Wilson (FL-24), Albio Sires (NJ-8), Sharice L. Davids (KS-3), Jesús G. "Chuy" García (IL-4), Ed Case (HI-1), Marilyn Strickland (WA-10), Alma S. Adams, Ph.D., (NC-12), Teresa Leger Fernandez (NM-3), Adam B. Schiff (CA-28), Chris Pappas (NH-1), Jimmy Panetta (CA-20), Zoe Lofgren (CA-19), Kaialiʻi Kahele (HI-2), John P. Sarbanes (MD-3), William R. Keating (MA-9), Jared Huffman (CA-2), Brian Higgins (NY-26), Nikema Williams (GA-5), Donald S. Beyer Jr. (VA-8), and Karen Bass (CA-37)
A copy of the legal brief is available here.
A web version of this release is here.