Speed Reads

Sending A Warning

Conservative attorneys general warn Walgreens, CVS against distributing abortion pills

A group of 20 attorneys general in conservative states wrote letters to two of the nation's largest drugstore chains on Wednesday, warning them against selling abortion pills by mail in their states. 

The letters, addressed to drugstore megachains Walgreens and CVS, were helmed by Republican Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey. They were co-signed by 19 other attorneys general in GOP-led states. 

"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,'" Bailey wrote in the letters, referring to the 1873 Comstock Act, which includes language prohibiting the mailing of "any article or thing designed or intended for the prevention of conception or procuring of an abortion." 

"The text could not be clearer," the letter says. "And anyone who 'knowingly takes any such thing from the mails for the purpose of circulating' is guilty of a federal crime."

The letters are in response to a recent regulatory change by the FDA that would allow retail pharmacies to begin distributing abortion pills. Under the change, The New York Times noted, certified pharmacies could begin selling prescription mifepristone, used in first-trimester abortions. The Justice Department also issued a legal ruling that said the Comstock Act doesn't bar the mailing of abortion pills.

However, conservatives have argued that the FDA's changes are illegal and the DOJ interpretation was wrong, and Bailey told The Associated Press that he would "enforce the laws as written." 

"The FDA rule is in direct violation of federal law, and the unelected bureaucrats at the FDA have no authority to change Missouri law, either," he said.

Walgreens told Axios in a statement that "we are not dispensing mifepristone at this time."

"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," a Walgreens spokesperson said. 

CVS has not currently released a statement addressing the letter.