Pro-choice groups and women members of Congress condemned the introduction of a bill sponsored by Senator Tim Hutchinson (R-Ark) and Representative David Vitter (R-LA) that would restrict access to mifepristone (formerly known as RU 486). If passed, the bill would severely limit the number of doctors who could prescribe the pill and would impose strict regulations on those doctors who do administer the abortion pill. Such restrictions and regulations would severely limit access to mifepristone and impair its availability overall.
At the press conference, Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation said, “What Republicans are doing by introducing legislation to restrict mifepristone is increasing the size of the gender gap in the 2002 elections.” Smeal continued, “Congress should be calling for increased funds to research the drug’s cancer fighting properties rather than fighting this constant battle to limit women’s reproductive health care options.” Leaders from the National Abortion Rights Action League, National Abortion Federation and several leading pro-choice congresswomen, including Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY), Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) and Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) also criticized the legislation. Representative Lowey said, “Now we know what George Bush refused to say in the campaignÑthat every day, in every way, the Bush administration and its extreme allies in Congress will act to make the right to choose as difficult, uncomfortable and inaccessible as they possibly can.”
On the same day that Republicans introduced the bill to restrict mifepristone, Family Planning Associates in California, one of the major providers of abortion services in the state, announced its decisions to begin offering the drug to women in California.