March 02, 2023

Wyden Delivers Floor Speech on the Human Cost if Women Lose Access to Mifepristone

Click here to watch a video of today’s remarks. 

Two weeks ago, Wyden delivered a floor speech calling on President Biden and the FDA to keep mifepristone on the market, regardless of outcome in Texas case.

As Prepared for Delivery

Today I begin an effort to provide regular updates to the Senate and the country about the devastating consequences for women in every state if Judge Kacsmaryk issues a ruling banning Mifepristone nationwide.

Two weeks ago, I stood on the Senate floor and laid out what must happen if and when this decision comes down.

President Biden and the FDA must ignore it. The FDA has the authority and needs to keep this medication on the market without interruption regardless of what the ruling says. 

I’ve already laid out the rationale for why this case is absurd, meritless and lacks any legal standing, as well as the FDA’s legal authority to ignore such a ruling.

Today I’m not here to rehash those important points. I want to discuss the human cost if every woman in this country loses access to Mifepristone.

Republicans on the Supreme Court said that the issue of abortion should be returned to the states. That the country should not have a one-size-fits-all policy on this subject so essential for access to health care. 

So let’s talk about the states. 

My home state of Oregon has some of the strongest protections for reproductive health care in the country. Abortion is legal. If you have health insurance, it is required to cover this critical care. If you don’t, you can still access care. There are no waiting periods. You can get abortion medication via telemedicine and by mail – something that is crucial in states with large rural populations like ours.

In fact, despite the dangerous Dobbs decision, access to reproductive care is expanding in Oregon – partially to accommodate women traveling from nearby states whose own home-state laws deny them this critical access to health care.

Oregon has leaders like Governor Tina Kotek and Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum fighting to keep Mifepristone legal and accessible to women in our state.

I’m proud to come from a state where the law reflects the fact that a woman’s right to privacy is paramount, and a woman’s right to choose is hers and hers alone.

But if the plaintiffs and anti-abortion activists prevail in that case in Texas, everything will change for people facing important reproductive decisions every day and everywhere in the United States – in every single state. 

Let me repeat that. No state is off the hook.

Despite strong laws on the books, women in my state of Oregon stand to lose access to Mifepristone – a drug that is used in more than 50 percent of abortions.

So much for state’s rights. 

All that talk about returning abortion law to the states is going straight out the window. I’ve said it before and I will repeat it here: the Republican party genuinely seems concerned about state’s rights only when they think a state is right - otherwise they seem happy to take over and tell states what to do. Well, Oregon and Oregonians don’t appreciate that selective application of their philosophies.

But here it is.

Because of one judge hand-picked by Trump in the 16th largest city in Texas, there is serious potential that soon Americans from one side of the country to the other – and everywhere in between – will no longer be able to access the safest, most effective and most relied-on form of abortion care. This is not leaving decisions to the states like the United States Supreme Court told us would happen back in June. That was the very foundation of their ruling in Dobbs. And no shock to anyone, that’s not what we’re seeing today.

And here is what will ensue when that reckless decision in Texas comes down.

Providers who are already being stretched thin, harassed, and subject to vile threats, will be thrown into a landscape of chaos and confusion. Over the last few months, I have heard nonstop from those heroic medical professionals in my state. They worry there will be lines out their doors of women needing their help. They worry about long wait times for the women who are fortunate enough to eventually receive in-person care. And they worry about the women who will never make it to a doctor’s office because they live in a rural county or lack the means to make the journey that will now be necessary to receive abortion care. 

They worry about what will happen next. When will another judge in another state that looks nothing like Oregon make it so that these providers are not able to treat women seeking abortion? This is not some farfetched slippery slope. It’s happening now. Right before our eyes.

Women have relied on access to Mifepristone for more than twenty years. With this access has come an increasing freedom to make their own private medical decisions and face far less stigma. That fundamental right is potentially about to be further gutted. 

This is America. Aren’t we for freedom? Freedom to determine our own lives and futures? Freedom to decide whether and when to have a family?

Everybody has heard the horror stories of life before Roe. There are too many people with immense power in this country who want to yank us back there. 

I doubt those people have given a moment’s consideration to the danger women face when a pregnancy goes wrong. How their lives can be at risk. 

This is about women’s health and survival. This is about control over their lives. Control over their bodies. It is about depriving Oregonians and women everywhere of the fundamental right to privacy. And these anti-abortion activists won’t stop until abortion in every form and in every state is banned. 

The need to control women’s bodies will not end at attacking  Mifepristone, which I will say, AGAIN, has a long record grounded in science for being safe and effective. It will not end with the topic of abortion, either. Right-wing extremists are coming after access to reproductive health care more broadly. 

Some lawmakers and their allies have filed legislation and lawsuits to block access to birth control, life-saving cancer screenings, HIV prevention, and more. 

And as these attacks forge on, we all know who will be hurt the most. People of modest means, people in rural areas, people of color, immigrants, and LGBTQ Americans.

I said it two weeks ago when I came to the floor to talk about this case. Enough. No more sitting back and letting things happen. 

I don’t want to be back here in a few days, but I fear that I will be. So let’s talk about political change. Political change rarely starts here in Washington, DC and trickles down. It starts at the grassroots level. 

What we really need right now is a nationwide mobilization to protect a woman’s right to privacy and the right to make these choices for herself. And what I’d like to ask today, is for everyone who agrees, to keep mobilizing. Talk to your city council member, your mayor, your state legislator, anyone with an election certificate, about how this is important to you. Momentum is needed more than ever to ensure that Mifepristone stays legal and accessible. 

So again, I repeat: the FDA, using authorities it already has, needs to keep Mifepristone on the market without any interruption regardless of Judge Kacsmaryk’s ruling. 

And we the people need to mobilize. In Oregon. In Michigan. In Florida, and in every nook and cranny in this great country. 


Press Contact

Nicole L’Esperance