A group of 20 Republican state attorney generals sent a joint letter to Walgreens and CVS on Wednesday warning major drugstore chains against mailing and distributing pills used in drug abortions.
Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey led a coalition warning that companies would be violating federal and state laws if they dispensed the drug. The letter comes just over a month after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said it could offer abortion pills at U.S. retail pharmacies, and could allow the Biden administration to dramatically expand Americans’ access to those drugs. This is a major change in policy. The FDA also recently dropped the requirement to collect medications in person, an extension of telemedicine that allows people to get their medications by mail.
These changes drew fierce criticism from Republicans.
“As Attorney General, it is my responsibility to enforce the law by law, and that includes enforcing the very laws that protect women and unborn children in Missouri,” Bailey said in a statement Wednesday. “Our office is committed to informing these companies of the law, with the promise that we will use all tools at our disposal to uphold the law if it is broken.”
The Attorney General pointed to a federal law called the Comstock Act, which “explicitly prohibits the use of the mail to send or receive drugs to be used or applied in the production of abortions.” However, the Department of Justice stated in December: This law does not prohibit the mailing or receipt of drug abortion pills on which the FDA ruling was based.
Drug abortion is the use of two drugs, mifepristone and misoprostol, used alone or in combination to induce abortion. This regimen was approved by the FDA in 2000 for use during the first 10 weeks of pregnancy and now accounts for about half of all abortions in the United States.
President Joe Biden vowed to protect and expand access to abortion drugs following the Supreme Court’s decision overturning the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling last summer that established abortion rights. The decision has prompted dozens of states to ban or severely restrict abortion. Many states have laws prohibiting residents from accessing abortion medications by mail, but patients in those states can still attempt to obtain medications through online counseling or overseas doctors.
Both Walgreens and CVS have said they plan to complete the certification process required to sell drugs in states where they are legal. No company has done that yet.
A Walgreens spokesperson told Reuters this week, “We intend to become an accredited pharmacy under this program, but we fully understand that once accredited under the program, we may not be able to dispense mifepristone in all locations.”
The letter was joined by the Attorney Generals of Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and West Virginia. . .