More Oregon leaders react to U.S. Supreme Court ruling on abortion medicine

Oregon political leaders continued to react Friday, June 14, after the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously upheld access to mifepristone, a widely available abortion drug, earlier in the week.

The decision written by Justice Brett Kavanaugh carefully sidestepped the issue of future court challenges to the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of mifepristone. The decision, released Thursday, only rules that the plaintiffs in this case — anti-abortion doctors — don’t have standing to sue because they do not prescribe the drug themselves.

“I am glad that the Supreme Court ruled to protect access to mifepristone, a safe and reliable medication that has been in use for decades,” Oregon Congresswoman Andrea Salinas said. “This decision makes it possible for health care providers in Oregon, including at Planned Parenthood health centers, to continue making this lifesaving medication accessible for those who need it. While I am relieved for today’s decision, it does not change the fact that this same body imposed the harmful decision to overturn Roe two years ago and leave millions without any abortion care — medication or otherwise. Our fight continues.”

Oregon Right to Life, an anti-abortion organization, sent a statement to the Portland Tribune after an earlier version of this story was posted.

“We are deeply disappointed in the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision today,” Lois Anderson, Oregon Right to Life executive director, said. “The FDA’s policy changes loosening safeguards for this drug put pregnant women in danger and are lethal to the unborn.”

Right to Life leaders said other legal avenues remain open. Three states — Idaho, Kansas and Missouri — previously intervened in the lawsuit in district court and attempted to do so at the U.S. Supreme Court. Those states “could decide to continue the legal action and attempt to demonstrate that they possess the legal standing that the (original plaintiffs) lacked,” Anderson said.

“We urge our pro-life neighbor Idaho, as well as Kansas and Missouri, to proceed with this important litigation,” Anderson said. “Since the FDA is unwilling to stand up against the abortion industry on behalf of women, we must. Pro-life advocates across the country must demand accountability from the FDA and seek protections for women and the unborn.”

Both of Oregon’s Planned Parenthood organizations weighed in later on Thursday. Speaking for the Columbia-Willamette and Southwestern Oregon chapters, they called the high court ruling “welcome news.”

On Thursday, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum praised the unanimous ruling in the case of FDA v. Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine.

“The Supreme Court did the right thing this morning to reject the … lawsuit,” she wrote. “This does not mean that the legal battles over access to abortion medication are over. Our unwavering coalition of state attorneys general is committed to defending access to safe and effective medications used for abortion and miscarriage management — like mifepristone — and will continue to do so in the courts and in our states.”

Rosenblum was among the speakers at a rally on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court in March, when justices heard oral arguments in this case.

“Mifepristone is part of the gold standard of care for medication abortion, and we will not compromise on that,” Rosenblum said at the March rally in Washington, D.C. “Here we are — in 2024 — confronting real threats to reproductive freedom, once again. Without access (to safe medication) there is simply no such freedom.”

U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley also spoke out after Thursday’s ruling.

“Mifepristone has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) since 2000 and has been used safely and effectively for decades,” he wrote in a press release. “Today, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that extremist groups trying to block access to this essential medication lacked standing — welcome news that preserves access to mifepristone. This is a win for reproductive freedom across America.”

U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden also commented.

“This decision is good news for women across the country, but unfortunately it won’t be the last time mifepristone is the target of the far-right’s crusade against this pillar of reproductive freedom,” he wrote. “The Supreme Court dismissed this bogus case on standing, not whether or not mifepristone should remain on the market altogether. The next case conservatives bring before the court will undoubtedly be more airtight and pose an even bigger threat to mifepristone access nationwide.”

State Rep. Janelle Bynum, D-Clackamas, also argued that the ruling was correct but will not limit future challenges to the availability of the drug. “The Supreme Court made the right decision today, but the fight to safeguard abortion is far from over,” she said.

Bynum will challenge Congresswoman Lori Chavez-DeRemer, R-Happy Valley, this fall to serve Oregon Congressional District 5. As of press time, Rep. Chavez-DeRemer had not released a statement on the ruling.

Dr. Stella Dantas of Oregon serves as president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. “Following the devastating decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, opponents of abortion have pursued all means possible to further chip away at reproductive health care,” Dantas wrote. “It is satisfying to know that they did not succeed today. However, given that a majority of people who need abortion care opt to use medication abortion, it is no surprise that mifepristone quickly came under attack and it will likely remain under attack.”

In the Dobbs ruling, the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, withdrawing federal protection for abortion rights.

Dr. Julia Barnes, section chair for the Oregon branch of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, echoed the national organization’s statement. “Patient’s deserve safe and effective medications for medication abortion and miscarriage treatment,” she wrote. “Today’s decision allows clinicians to continue to care for their patients appropriately and safely. We will continue to support our patients in accessing essential health care.”

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