Mifepristone, misoprostol may be mailed to states with abortion bans


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The Justice Department has issued a legal opinion that the U.S. Postal Service may deliver abortion pills to people in states that ban the use of abortion pills.

The 21-page opinion, posted online late Tuesday, won’t change state or federal law, but it’s a move the Justice Department has made at a time when many states are trying to limit access to and crack abortion drugs. Clearly communicates to federal agencies how to interpret existing law. Down to the provider to email.

The U.S. Postal Service had asked the Justice Department to clarify whether its workers were responsible for delivering pills that could be used for abortion in illegal states.

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The Justice Department’s response was a resounding no, marking Attorney General Merrick Garland’s latest attempt to protect access to abortion in at least some cases after the Supreme Court overturned it. Law vs Wade this summer.Supreme Court decision known as Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organizationoverturned the right to abortion, which had been protected by federal law for nearly 50 years.

Since then, a dozen states have banned or severely restricted abortion, and many more are poised to do so, preserving access to drugs that can be used to terminate early pregnancies at home. We are encouraging new initiatives to

The Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday made regulatory changes to make medical abortion easier to access in states where it’s legal, allowing retail pharmacies to dispense the pills. and could only be obtained in person from a doctor or by mail.even before Dobbs Drug abortions account for more than half of all abortions in the United States, according to the ruling.

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The DOJ’s opinion rests on its interpretation of Section 1461 of the Comstock Act. This law, first passed in 1873, governs how the post office handles deliveries of contraceptives and items deemed “obscene”.

The opinion notes that two pills commonly used to perform abortions, mifepristone and misoprostol, can also be used in other ways, such as managing miscarriage. The recipient does not have to tell you how to use the tablets. As such, the Department of Justice states that neither the sender nor the mail worker violated federal law by sending or delivering abortion drugs in a state that cannot legally use abortion drugs to terminate a pregnancy in certain cases. I concluded that I did not.

The opinion also noted that even states that have recently enacted strict abortion bans continue to allow abortions up to a certain number of weeks after conception.

“People who transmit or distribute mifepristone and misoprostol should generally be fully informed about how the recipient intends to use them and whether that use is illegal under relevant laws. “Therefore, the sender or courier of Mifepristone or Misoprostol, including the USPS, should be aware that the package contains such drugs.” , or actually used to facilitate abortion, such knowledge alone is not sufficient grounds to conclude that Section 1461 has been violated.”

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This opinion does not protect anyone who receives mifepristone and misoprostol by mail and uses them to illegally obtain an abortion.

Lawrence Gostin, a professor of international health law at Georgetown University, called the issue of mailing abortion pills “a lively and important debate,” with conservative states and jurisdictions imposing harsh penalties on those who do. For example, the state of Louisiana recently enacted a law that effectively makes sending abortion pills to anyone in the state a criminal offense punishable by up to five years in prison.

But federal law has superseded local law, and Gostin said the Justice Department’s opinion should mean states cannot punish people for sending abortion pills.

“I see this as a major expansion of access to abortion in the United States,” Gostin said.

Stephanie Krent, an attorney at Columbia University’s Knight’s First Amendment Institute, said the Justice Department’s opinion will shape how the entire executive branch, including the Department of Posts and Telecommunications, interprets and enforces abortion-related laws. Stated.

A future president’s office or attorney general may withdraw its opinion if it disagrees with the agency’s interpretation of the Comstock Act.

But for now, “these opinions should be considered executive law,” Krent said. “It is binding on the executive branch and must be complied with.”



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