Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum talks in March with an official from Planned Parenthood before a news conference about the abortion pill. (Photo by Lynne Terry/Oregon Capital Chronicle)

Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum and a coalition of other Democratic attorneys general on Friday urged the U.S. Supreme Court to preserve access to abortion medication. 

The 24 attorneys general filed a brief with the Supreme Court urging it to reverse a Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling making it harder for patients to access mifepristone, the first of two pills used for medication abortions. Their amicus, or friend of the court, brief follows one earlier this week from a coalition of more than 600 Democratic lawmakers, including six from Oregon. 

The Fifth Circuit’s ruling has been on hold since April as the Supreme Court decides whether to take the case. If the high court declines to hear it or upholds the lower court’s ruling, expanded rules from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that allowed providers to prescribe mifepristone through telehealth and send it by mail would be struck down. It would also mean mifepristone could only be prescribed for the first seven weeks of pregnancy, rather than the current 10, and patients would be required to see providers in person at three separate clinic appointments. 

There are no restrictions on abortion in Oregon, and women in the state  will be able to access medication abortion regardless of the outcome of the federal case. Earlier this year, the state began stockpiling a three-year supply of mifepristone. 

“For the past 23 years, the prescription drug mifepristone has been used safely and effectively for abortions and miscarriages 5 million times —with extremely low rates of serious complications,” Rosenblum said in a statement. “In our view, the Fifth Circuit’s ruling is not supported by the science – nor the data – and should be reversed by the U.S. Supreme Court, without regard to ideology.” 

Mifepristone and another medication, misoprostol, are used to terminate pregnancies early – they work best at nine weeks or less. Mifepristone blocks progesterone, a hormone needed to continue a pregnancy. Misoprostol, which is usually taken at least 24 hours later, prompts contractions and causes the body to expel the products of conception. Together, the two drugs essentially induce a miscarriage. 

It’s the most common method of abortion, and the attorneys general warned in their brief that disrupting access to the medication would lead to more women having surgical procedures later in pregnancy that cost more and have higher risks. 

Last spring, Rosenblum’s office launched a reproductive rights hotline staffed by Oregon law firms to provide free legal advice about abortion and reproductive rights. Oregonians can call (503) 431-6460 and expect a return call within 48 hours. 

Oregon Capital Chronicle

Oregon Capital Chronicle is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Oregon Capital Chronicle maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Lynne Terry for questions: info@oregoncapitalchronicle.com. Follow Oregon Capital Chronicle on Facebook and Twitter.

Julia Shumway has reported on government and politics in Iowa and Nebraska, spent time at the Bend Bulletin and most recently was a legislative reporter for the Arizona Capitol Times in Phoenix. An award-winning journalist, Julia most recently reported on the tangled efforts to audit the presidential results in Arizona.