WASHINGTON — A freshman congressman from the Nashville area became the latest lawmaker seeking to restrict abortion by introducing a bill on Thursday morning that would prohibit medical abortions and penalize the selling or distribution of abortion pills.
Rep. Andy Ogles (R-Tenn.) said his bill, the Ending Chemical Abortions Act of 2023, pushes back against what he called the “radically pro-choice, anti-women, anti-family” Biden administration. The move also comes as the Federal Drug Administration’s easing of regulations of the abortion drug mifepristone is being fought out in federal courts.
The bill has little chance of becoming law, especially with a Democratic-controlled Senate, but it demonstrates the eagerness of several House Republicans to impose more restrictions, including a national abortion ban. That positioning, however, is drawing some criticism from those within the party, like Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.), who has been warning that the GOP will lose seats in the 2024 election if lawmakers continue to push for more restrictions.
Ogles, however, is undeterred. He said the idea for this legislation was first introduced to him by Students for Life Action, an anti-abortion rights group that works to change public policy.
“We’re taking a stand for life because, born or unborn, every single person is uniquely and wonderfully made,” Ogles said in his opening remarks. “We have a duty to uphold the sanctity of life.”
Ogles said he is working with his colleagues to garner support on the bill and will push for a vote once the looming government shutdown issues are resolved.
Those alongside Ogles on Thursday were in full support of his bill. Janae Stracke of Heritage Action for America said the legislation was “life-saving” and thanked Ogles for pushing to end “dangerous access to chemical abortions.”
Ogles claimed that one in five women using abortion drugs suffer complications; however, more than 100 studies have found that mifepristone and misoprostol are safe and effective.
Abortion-rights activist groups quickly denounced Ogles’ bill.
“The FDA has found for 20 years that mifepristone is safe to use, and we’ve seen a really safe track record that is really supportive of what people need in our communities,” said Lupe Rodríguez, the executive director of National Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice. “The fact that folks are trying to take away this right from people is outrageous, and it’s dangerous, and we’re angered by it.”
Tuyet Duong, the chief policy officer for the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, warned Ogles’ legislation would disproportionately harm women of color.
Both abortion-rights groups are pushing for bills like the Women’s Health Protection Act of 2023, which would guarantee access to abortion care nationwide. Duong urged members of Congress to keep fighting for such rights.
“We must stand strong. If we stand strong and we stand together and we stand in a sustained way, we can bring our system back to where it was before the Dobbs decision,” she said. “We can win the fight.”