DOJ Says That USPS Can Deliver Abortion Pills

DOJ Says That USPS Can Deliver Abortion Pills

( – On June 24, 2022, the US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) overturned the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that made abortion legal nationwide. In reversing the controversial decision, the 5-4 majority rescinded abortion as a national right and handed it back to the states to decide whether it was legal and in what capacity. The decision has put some entities in limbo, including the United States Postal Service (USPS).

On Friday, December 23, the Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of Legal Counsel released an opinion that was sought by the USPS seeking clarification. It needed to know if the Dobbs ruling triggered the Comstock Act of 1873. If so, it wouldn’t allow mifepristone and misoprostol to be shipped through the mail. The DOJ said, in its opinion, the mail service could deliver the pills.

Justice Department Says Mail Service Can Deliver Abortion Medication

The USPS asked the Office of Legal Counsel if Section 1461 of Title 18 of the US code prohibited them from delivering the two drugs through the mail. While mifepristone and misoprostol aid a woman in terminating an early pregnancy, they also have other medical uses. Congress enacted section 1461 as part of the original Comstock Act of 1873. It says “nonmailable matter” applies to “every article or thing designed, adapted, or intended for producing an abortion,” including instruments, drugs, medications, or items advertised to aid the act. It states items “shall not be conveyed in the mails or delivered from any post office or by any letter carrier.”

In the opinion of the DOJ, the USPS could allow for the mailing of the two drugs when the mailer doesn’t intend the drugs to be used unlawfully, and by doing so, it didn’t violate section 1461. The issuance stated the decision was based on longstanding court rulings of the Comstock Act. It noted mifepristone and misoprostol are not prohibited by federal law and that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) determined they are safe and effective for the medical termination of a pregnancy.

USPS Issues Statement

Through Reuters, the postal service said the Justice Department confirmed the Comstock Act didn’t require it to ban mifepristone and misoprostol from shipments under federal law and that it considered them in the same regard as other prescription drugs. It stated shipping the abortion drugs to states with restrictions wasn’t a good enough reason for the USPS not to deliver the prescription drugs.

In 2000, the FDA approved mifepristone, which requires a prescription by a doctor. In December 2021, the FDA permanently eased medication restrictions and allowed them to be mailed instead of forcing patients to pick them up at a pharmacy.

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