20 Republican state attorneys general have written letters to CVS and Walgreens warning them that their plans to use the mail to distribute abortion pills would violate state and federal laws. Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey is leading the effort and says his office will use every tool at its disposal to enforce the law and protect women and unborn children. The letters explain that federal law expressly prohibits using the mail to send or receive drugs that will be used for producing abortions. The AGs emphasize that this law has not been amended in several decades but its text is clear, and anyone who knowingly takes such a thing from the mail for the purpose of circulating it is guilty of a federal crime.
The retailers announced their intention after the Biden administration developed a plan to change a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rule that would allow companies like Walgreens and CVS to apply for a certification to distribute a two-step abortion-inducing drug. Before the rule change, mifepristone, the first pill used in the two-part abortion process, could only be dispensed by mail-order pharmacies, certified doctors, or clinics. If the FDA grants the certification, the pharmacy will be able to dispense the drug directly to patients upon receiving a prescription from a certified prescriber.
However, the AGs are warning that this change is an incorrect reading of the law and would not hold up in court. They reject the Biden administration's interpretation and expect the courts to do the same. The letters also point out that like federal law, the laws of many states also prohibit using the mail to send or receive abortion drugs. The AGs note that abortion pills are riskier than surgical abortions, and a recent study by the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists found that chemical abortions were 5.96 times more likely to result in complications than first-trimester aspiration abortions. They also raise the concern that mail-order abortion pills increase the risk of coerced abortions, as there is no oversight outside the regulated medical context.
The AGs state that it is their responsibility to uphold the law and protect the health, safety, and well-being of women and unborn children in their states. This includes ensuring that companies like CVS and Walgreens are fully informed of the law so that no harm comes to their citizens.
The letters were signed by Attorneys General from Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, and Utah.