FFRF condemns anti-abortion AGs for intimidating Walgreens

Walgreens Mike Mozart

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is dismayed that 20 state attorneys general have tried to pressure major pharmacies not to mail mifepristone to patients — and that, worse still, Walgreens has caved in.

Mifepristone is the first pill in a two-drug medication abortion regimen. Medicinal abortions are the most common form of abortion in the country and are highly safe and effective. In fact, getting a medicinal abortion is far less dangerous than giving birth. Mifepristone has other medical uses as well, meaning that the Walgreens ban also harms patients who are not even seeking an abortion.

The letter from the attorneys general is based on an interpretation of an 1873 law called the Comstock Act, which was passed by a religious zealot who advocated for expansive laws “to prevent the mails from being used to corrupt the public morals.” This included 18 U.S.C. § 1461, which prohibits mailing something that is “intended” to cause an abortion.

However, the U.S. Justice Department has reviewed this federal law and has concluded that it does not prohibit pharmacies from mailing mifepristone “where it lacks the intent that the recipient of the drugs will use them unlawfully.” The attorneys general letter is at odds with the DOJ’s own interpretation, casting doubt on the letter’s legal argument.

“Whether it’s an 1873 law about morals or anti-abortion attorneys general in 2023, pious public figures have a long history of attempting to limit access to safe reproductive health care,” comments FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “Walgreens should stand up for reproductive autonomy in this moment where women’s health is so imperiled.”

Other, more progressive state attorneys general are pushing back. California has announced that it will not renew a $54 million contract with Walgreens, while others have focused on securing access to mifepristone from other pharmacies. FFRF urges its members to consider alternative providers ahead of time so that the bullying behavior of anti-abortion attorneys general will not stop people from getting the care that they need.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is committed to fighting for abortion access in the post-Roe era — and will not stop until the religiously motivated assault on reproductive autonomy is defeated.

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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