Republicans Quietly Move to Use the Budget to Ban Mailing Abortion Pills

The long-shot attack would dramatically upend telemedicine prescriptions for mifepristone.

Republicans Quietly Move to Use the Budget to Ban Mailing Abortion Pills
Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) Screenshot:YouTube/House Appropriations Committee (Fair Use)

On Wednesday, the Republican-led House Appropriations Committee advanced a budget bill that would make it harder to get abortion pills. The move came a day after the same committee voted to ban Veterans Affairs facilities from providing life-saving abortions to vets and their family members.

Tucked away on page 107 of the 113-page Fiscal Year 2024 bill is language that would repeal a January 3, 2023, Food and Drug Administration action that removed the in-person dispensing requirement for mifepristone, the first drug commonly used in medication abortions. This change allowed the drug to be dispensed by pharmacists and sent to patients by mail. Republicans really hate that and want to force the FDA to crack down on telemedicine access in states where abortion is still legal—despite many of them saying abortion should be handled at the state, not federal, level.

The committee touted their latest abortion attack in a release, saying that the bill “protects the lives of unborn children by including a provision that ends mail-order chemical abortion drugs.”

Here is the language from the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration subcommittee’s bill: (Fair Use)

Rep. Norma Torres (D-Calif.), vice chair of the Pro-Choice Caucus, introduced an amendment to strip the mifepristone provision, but it failed by a voice vote. Torres spoke about it on the committee floor Wednesday and wrote that Republicans are trying “to use a government funding bill to restrict access to medication abortion.”

The bill passed by a committee vote of 34 to 27 and now heads to the full House, where it is likely to pass, though it faces long odds in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

Among the Republicans who voted for the bill are three congressmen in districts that President Joe Biden won in 2020: Rep. David Valadao (R-Calif.), Rep. Mike Garcia (R-Calif.), and Rep. Juan Ciscomani (R-Ariz.). Other vulnerable members who voted yes include Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Calif.) and Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-Mont.).

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokesperson Viet Shelton said in a statement that the Republicans’ “action today highlights how out of touch they are from their districts. No longer will they be able to hide behind empty rhetoric when they are actively voting to restrict reproductive freedoms from women everywhere.”

Conservatives have already mounted a lawsuit seeking to revoke FDA approval of mifepristone; this move shows once again that Republicans will do whatever they can to attack abortion access.

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