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Senate Democrats To Introduce Bill To Give DOJ Power To Fight Medication Abortion Bans

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Two Senate Democrats are hoping to guard access to medication abortion by codifying the Food and Drug Administration’s authority over reproductive health care products as several red states look into usurping that power so that they can ban drugs used for abortion and miscarriage.

Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Tina Smith (D-Minn.) plan to introduce the Protecting National Access to Reproductive Care Act on Tuesday morning. The bill, shared exclusively with HuffPost, affirms that the FDA’s authority supersedes state law in terms of FDA-approved drugs, including those used for medication abortions: mifepristone and misoprostol. The language within the laws points to the Supremacy Clause within the U.S. Structure, which prohibits states from interfering with the federal government’s power to control drugs.

The Protecting National Access to Reproductive Care Act gives the Department of Justice the facility to make use of injunctive relief against states and state officials that attempt to ban or restrict access to any reproductive health care products, including medication abortion. The bill includes $20 million for the DOJ to implement that authority. It creates a non-public reason behind motion for people and physicians to sue in court for injunctive relief as well.

Essentially, if a state tries to limit using or access to medication abortion drugs, this bill says the FDA’s preemptive authority trumps the state’s abortion restriction and offers the DOJ the facility to go after anti-abortion governors, state attorneys general and other state officials implementing such restrictions.

If passed, the Justice Department would have loads of work to do, on condition that greater than a dozen states have already banned or severely restricted abortion care since June 24, when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that afforded federal abortion rights protection. Even before Roe fell, 19 states had banned prescribing medication abortion via mail or by virtual telehealth visits, and greater than 100 measures were introduced in red states specifically attacking access to medication abortion.

“We all know that the Dobbs decision has emboldened Republicans in state legislatures to ramp up their efforts to strip people of their medical freedoms and bodily autonomy,” Booker told HuffPost.

“Republican lawmakers have already begun to introduce bills to ban medication abortion entirely, imposing their extreme views, with no scientific basis, and agenda upon Americans,” he added. “That’s the reason I’m working with Sen. Smith on this urgently needed piece of laws to affirm the FDA’s long-standing preemptive authority over reproductive health products and send a robust message that the federal government will implement this authority.”

It’s highly unlikely that Booker and Smith’s bill will pass within the Senate, on condition that Democrats simply don’t have the numbers to beat filibuster rules to advance abortion rights laws.

The FDA first approved medication abortion in 2000 for miscarriage and abortion care as much as 10 weeks of pregnancy. Despite the drug being highly regulated, medication abortion is probably the most common abortion method within the country, accounting for about 60% of all abortions within the U.S. When used together, mifepristone and misoprostol are greater than 95% effective and are safer than Tylenol.

The day before Roe was overturned, Smith introduced the Protecting Access to Medication Abortion Act, which goals to codify current FDA guidelines on abortion drugs in lots of blue states that proceed to offer care in a post-Roe world. The bill would be sure that people could still order pills for medication abortion through telehealth visits and from mail-order pharmacies in these state.

The Protecting National Access to Reproductive Care Act and Smith’s Protecting Access to Medication Abortion Act would safeguard medication abortion in alternative ways, working in tandem to proceed access to critical health care.

Although neither laws is more likely to pass within the Senate, Smith told HuffPost in June, when she introduced her first bill, that these bills are vital whether or not they turn into law or not.

“We don’t have 60 votes in the USA Senate to advance laws to guard abortion rights and fundamental freedom,” Smith told HuffPost in June.

“But that doesn’t mean it isn’t vital to introduce laws, to speak about what the necessity is and to make use of that as a way of communicating broadly about what’s occurring on this country. And in addition to mobilize support and ultimately to get those bills passed when we’ve the votes to pass them.”

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