The Republican attorneys general of 20 states issued a letter to CVS and Walgreens on Wednesday, explaining the illegality of sending abortion pills through the mail.
The letter was written to Danielle Gray, the executive vice president of Walgreens Boots Alliance, and explained the legal situation.
In an effort to uphold the laws as written and defend the welfare of women and unborn children, I led a coalition of 20 AGs in sending a letter to CVS and Walgreens informing them that their announced plan to use the mail to distribute abortion pills is both unsafe and illegal. pic.twitter.com/iTpyK7EYiM
— Attorney General Andrew Bailey (@AGAndrewBailey) February 1, 2023
The attorneys general noted that “many people are not aware that federal law expressly prohibits using the mail to send or receive any drug that will ‘be used or applied for producing abortion.’” The law is known as the Comstock Act. The officials noted that it says “every [sic] article or thing designed, adapted, or intended for producing abortion … shall not be conveyed in the mails” and anybody who “knowingly takes any such thing from the mails for the purpose of circulating” has committed a federal crime.
However, the Biden administration’s Office of Legal Counsel told the U.S. Postal Service to ignore the law.
In December, the Justice Department said that the law “does not prohibit the mailing, or the delivery or receipt by mail, of mifepristone or misoprostol where the sender lacks the intent that the recipient of the drugs will use them unlawfully.”
The administration noted that the law does not allow abortion drugs to be sent or gathered through the mail, but said that the words should not be “[t]aken literally,” according to the letter.
The attorneys general went on to explain that they do not agree with “the Biden administration’s bizarre interpretation” and believe that the courts will not accept it, either.
The officials added that several states do not allow abortion pills to be sent or obtained through the mail, so it is not only a federal legal issue, but also one that has been determined at the state level in many cases.
“These state laws reflect not only our commitment to protecting the lives and dignity of children, but also of women,” they noted. “Abortion pills are far riskier than surgical abortions, according to established scientific consensus …”
They also pointed out that “mail-order abortion pills” welcome a rise in “coerced abortions,” noting that, apart from the regulated medical situation, it is not hard for someone to get an abortion drug and then force a woman to take the pill.
“We emphasize that it is our responsibility as State Attorneys General to uphold the law and protect the health, safety, and well-being of women and unborn children in our states. Part of that responsibility includes ensuring that companies like yours are fully informed of the law so that harm does not come to our citizens,” they concluded, in part.
The letter comes after CVS and Walgreens both stated that they were planning to go through the process to sell abortion pills where allowed.
“We are not dispensing Mifepristone at this time,” Walgreens spokesperson Fraser Engerman said, per CNBC. “We intend to become a certified pharmacy under the program, however we fully understand that we may not be able to dispense Mifepristone in all locations if we are certified under the program.”
Attorneys general in Missouri, Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia all signed the letter.