In Light of New Threats to Medication Abortion, Warren, Hirono, Duckworth, Smith Expand Investigation into Effects of State Abortion Bans
Senators Ask 5 Leading Health Care Provider Organizations About Effects of Attacks on Medication Abortion
Senators Continue Investigation After Their November 2022 Report Revealing Devastating Consequences of State Abortion Bans
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), and Tina Smith (D-Minn.) expanded their investigation into the effects of state abortion bans on women, as the country nears the first anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. The senators sent letters to five leading health care organizations representing physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and hospitals – the American Medical Association, Physicians for Reproductive Health, National Nurses United, the American Pharmacists Association, and the American Hospital Association – asking for updates since the organizations’ responses to the senators’ questions about threats to abortion sent in August and September 2022. The senators are also requesting information about the effects of attacks on medication abortion amidst ongoing legal challenges.
“Since the Supreme Court’s devastating decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization to overturn Roe v. Wade, Republican politicians across the country have enacted draconian laws banning or severely limiting abortions, with Republicans in Congress even introducing a 15-week national abortion ban. In particular, medication abortion, which accounts for over half of all abortions in the United States, is increasingly under attack,” wrote the senators.
The senators note the importance of access to medication abortion, which accounts for more than half of abortions nationwide. In states that restrict access to mifepristone, a medication used in conjunction with misoprostol to induce abortion, women are more likely to seek procedural abortions later in their pregnancies, resulting in higher costs and elevated health risks. Beyond abortion care, mifepristone is also used to treat miscarriages, allowing mothers to safely manage a painful loss in private.
“Since the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, online misinformation about the safety and efficacy of mifepristone… has exploded despite extensive evidence proving the drug’s safety. Anti-abortion organizations, including crisis pregnancy centers, have also promoted erroneous claims that medication abortion can be reversed, commonly referred to as ‘abortion pill reversals,’ resulting in confusion and fear… A federal district court’s ruling challenging the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) 23-year-old approval of mifepristone has further fueled this surge in misinformation, which has left women across the country unsure whether they can legally access the medication – even in states without restrictions,” wrote the senators.
Given these serious concerns, the senators are asking each organization to answer a set of questions by June 8, 2023 to better assess how challenges related to accessing medication abortion, including misinformation, affect patients and providers across the nation, and to better understand the effects of a potential judicial decision staying the FDA’s approval of mifepristone.
As the right to abortion and essential health care has come under attack from extremist Republicans and radical judges, Senator Warren has led work to protect reproductive freedom:
- On March 8, 2023, Senators Warren, Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), and Hirono Introduced the Upholding Protections for Health and Online Location Data (UPHOLD) Privacy Act, legislation that would expand protections for Americans’ personal health data by preventing companies from profiting off of personally identifiable health data for advertising purposes, allow consumers greater access to and ownership over their personal health information, restrict companies’ ability to collect or use information about personal health without user consent, and ban data brokers from selling location data.
- On April 7, 2023, Senator Warren released a statement on the decision by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas to stay the FDA’s decades-old approval of mifepristone.
- On February 13, 2023, Senator Warren and eleven other senators sent a letter to President Biden urging his administration to take new steps to protect reproductive freedom amid divided control of Congress and increasing efforts to restrict access to abortion.
- On November 18, 2022, Senator Warren led eight of her colleagues in a letter encouraging the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to defend America's reproductive rights, and to consider steps to protect and expand access to medication abortion.
- On November 1, 2022, Senator Warren, Duckworth, Hirono, and Smith released a report – based on information provided by leading health care providers – revealing the devastating consequences of state abortion bans and restrictions enacted by right-wing legislatures and the impacts of Senate Republicans’ extreme proposal to ban abortion nationwide after 15 weeks.
- On August 4, 2022, Senator Warren, Hirono, and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.) sent a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) urging concrete actions the Department can take to help meet President Biden’s goal of protecting and expanding access to medication abortion.
- On July 29, 2022, Senators Warren and Hirono led 23 of their colleagues in a letter to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), calling on the VA to take immediate administrative action to offer abortions and all abortion-related services to veterans and eligible dependents
- On July 21, 2022, Senators Warren and Ed Markey (D-Mass.) sent letters to Bark Technologies, Gaggle.net, GoGuardian, and Securly Inc., raising concerns that the software these companies use to monitor students’ online activity could be used to criminalize or punish students who are seeking information about abortion services and reproductive health care.
- On July 19, 2022, Senators Warren, Smith, and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) led a group of their Democratic colleagues in introducing the Expanding Access to Family Planning Act to provide robust mandatory funding for the Title X Family Planning Program.
- On July 14, 2022, Senators Warren, Cory Booker (D-N.J), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), and over a dozen Senate Democrats wrote to President Biden and Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra, urging them to immediately declare national and public health emergencies over Americans’ access to reproductive care.
- On July 11, 2022, Senators Warren and Klobuchar sent letters to Facebook and Instagram, calling on them to address their reported censorship of posts related to abortion services, following the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade.
- On July 7, 2022, Senator Warren announced two key data brokers’ commitments to permanently stop selling the location data of people seeking abortion services.
- On June 25, 2022, following the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade, Senators Warren and Smith wrote an op-ed in the New York Times laying out the next steps in the fight to protect the right to an abortion, including calling for the declaration of a public health emergency.
- On June 23, 2022, Senators Warren and Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Representatives Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.) introduced the Stop Anti-Abortion Disinformation Act, legislation that would crack down on false advertising that crisis pregnancy centers employ to dissuade patients from getting the reproductive care they need, including abortion care.
- On June 15, 2022, Senator Warren introduced the Health and Location Data Protection Act, legislation that bans data brokers from selling some of the most sensitive data available about everyday Americans: their health and location data.
- On June 7, 2022, Senators Warren and Murray led 23 of their Senate colleagues in a letter to President Biden urging him to immediately issue an executive order directing the federal government to develop a national plan to defend Americans’ fundamental reproductive rights, including their right to an abortion.
- On May 17, 2022, Senator Warren led thirteen of her Senate colleagues in letters to two data brokers demanding answers regarding their collection and sale of the cellphone-based location data of people who visit abortion clinics such as Planned Parenthood.
- On May 10, 2022, Senator Warren delivered a speech on the floor of the United States Senate on the need to protect the constitutional right to an abortion, pass the Women’s Health Protection Act, and fight back against Republican extremism.
- On May 9, 2022, Senator Warren wrote an op-ed in Marie Claire about the need to enshrine the right to an abortion in federal law.
- On May 3, 2022, when the draft Supreme Court opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade was leaked, Senator Warren spoke on the steps of the Supreme Court twice to activists, protestors, and the nation about the need to protect abortion rights.
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