Alaska Attorney General Treg Taylor is among 20 Republican state attorneys general who have warned pharmaceutical companies, CVS and Walgreens, that they could face legal consequences for distributing abortion pills at their storefronts.
The letter was sent Feb. 1 to Danielle Gray, executive vice president of Walgreens. It was also sent to Tom Moriarty, executive vice president and general counsel for CVS.
Referencing the Comstock Act of 1873, the letter states that federal law prohibits the distribution of abortion drugs through the mail, which Walgreens has said it intends to do.
“First, 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 letter begins. “Although many people are unfamiliar with this statute because it has not been amended in a few decades, the text could not be clearer: ‘every article or thing designed, adapted, or intended for producing abortion … shall not be conveyed in the mails.’ And anyone who ‘knowingly takes any such thing from the mails for the purpose of circulating’ is guilty of a federal crime.”
The letter acknowledges that the Biden administration’s Office of Legal Counsel “encouraged the U.S. Postal Service to disregard this plain text. But the text, not the Biden administration’s view, is what governs. And the Biden administration’s opinion fails to stand up even to the slightest amount of scrutiny.”
The attorneys general said they “reject the Biden administration’s bizarre interpretation, and we expect courts will as well. Courts do not lightly ignore the plain text of statutes. And the Supreme Court has been openly aversive to other attempts by the Biden administration to press antitextual arguments.”
If pharmacies disregard the law, the letter warns that they could soon see legal actions taken by the U.S. Attorney General’s office, as well as civil litigation through State Attorneys General.
The attorneys general conclude by emphasizing that they are committed to “protecting the lives and dignity of children, but also of women,” and that “abortion pills are far riskier than surgical abortions.”
“Medication abortions were 5.96 times as likely to result in a complication as first-trimester aspiration abortions,” the letter notes. “Abortion pills carry the added risk that when these heightened complications invariably occur, women suffer those harms at home, away from medical help. And finally, mail-order abortion pills also invite the horror of an increase in coerced abortions. When abortion drugs are mailed or consumed outside a regulated medical facility, the risk of coercion is much higher—indeed, guaranteed — because there is no oversight. Outside the regulated medical context, a person can obtain an abortion pill quite easily and then coerce a woman into taking it.”
ALASKA WATCHMAN DIRECT TO YOUR INBOX
Following the DOJ’s publication of its opinion on the Comstock Act, the Food and Drug Administration quickly updated new guidelines regarding abortion pill access, which includes letting retail pharmacies apply for certification to carry the abortion drug, mifepristone.
Mifepristone is part of a two-part drug cocktail that causes the death and early abortion on an unborn baby.
Reacting to the letter, Walgreens said in a statement that it is not currently dispensing mifepristone, but that it is working to become eligible to distribute the drug. Walgreens spokesman Fraser Engerman also said that the company “fully understand[s] that we may not be able to dispense Mifepristone in all locations if we are certified under the program.”
ABC News reported that a spokesman for Walgreens said the company is not currently dispensing mifepristone, although they are working to become eligible.
“We fully understand that we may not be able to dispense Mifepristone in all locations if we are certified under the program,” a statement from spokesman Fraser Engerman read.