(The Center Square) - Republican Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey and 19 other attorneys general are warning Walgreens and CVS pharmacies that any plans to mail abortion-inducing pills is illegal and unsafe.
"As the principal legal and law enforcement officers of our 20 states, we offer you these thoughts on the current legal landscape," Bailey wrote.
In late January, the Food and Drug Administration approved mifepristone to be used in a regimen with misoprostol "to end an intrauterine pregnancy through 10 weeks gestation." The drugs must be dispensed or under the supervision of a certified prescriber or pharmacy and "may be dispensed in-person or by mail" according to the FDA website.
In late December, the Department of Justice published a 21-page memorandum for the U.S. Postal Service stating "no matter where the drugs are delivered, a variety of uses of mifepristone and misoprostol serve important medical purposes and are lawful under federal and state law." The document said the USPS couldn't assume the drugs can't be mailed because "they are being sent into a jurisdiction that significantly restricts abortion."
CVS and Walgreens recently announced they are seeking certification from the FDA to sell and mail the pills, according to multiple media reports.
"As Attorney General, it is my responsibility to enforce the laws as written, and that includes enforcing the very laws that protect Missouri's women and unborn children," Bailey said in a statement. "My office is doing everything in its power to inform these companies of the law, with the promise that we will use every tool at our disposal to uphold the law if broken."
Missouri became the first state to end elective abortions when a "trigger law" was executed hours after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last June. In addition to prohibiting doctors from performing abortions unless there is a medical emergency, Missouri law states "any person who knowingly performs or induces an abortion of an unborn child in violation of this subsection shall be guilty of a class B felony, as well as subject to suspension or revocation of his or her professional license by his or her professional licensing board."
Bailey's letter to the companies stated Missouri law prohibits "using the mail to send or receive abortion drugs."
Bailey referred to research published by Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSRH) stating medication abortions were 5.96 times as likely to result in a complication as first-trimester aspiration abortions. (When the Supreme Court ruled last June, ANSRH stated the decision contradicted scientific evidence and said it "stands against this decision as one that will have devastating consequences to people's lives and their families.")
"And finally," Bailey wrote, "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."
The attorneys general from Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia signed Bailey's letter.