On Jan. 3, the FDA finalized a rule change to expand the availability of abortion pills to more pharmacies, including large chains and mail-order companies. Wednesday, Feb. 1, attorneys general in 20 states warned CVS and Walgreens that they could face legal consequences if they sell abortion pills by mail in those states.

Republican Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey sent a letter to the nation’s largest pharmacy-dispensing companies, co-signed by 19 other attorneys warning that the sale of abortion pills would violate abortion and federal laws. Last summer, Missouri implemented strict abortion prohibition laws after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. According to the Associated Press, Bailey said in a statement,

“I will enforce the laws as written.” He continued, “That includes laws protecting the health of women and their unborn children. 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. The people’s elected representatives have spoken on the issue of abortion in our state, and we will fight to uphold that in court.”

KPLC News reports a court battle in progress over whether or not the 19 states imposing restrictions on abortion pills can do so in defiance of FDA policy. In January, the makers of the pill mifepristone filed lawsuits seeking to strike down bans in North Carolina and West Virginia.

Due to safety concerns for the past 20 years, the FDA has limited dispensing of the drug to specialty offices and clinics because of safety concerns. But since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the agency eased restrictions, ending the in-person requirement for the pill and allowing pharmacies to dispense it.

A spokesman for Walgreens said they are not selling mifepristone currently but plan on being eligible in the near future. There is an FDA-mandated certification process that requires pharmacies must meet to include specific standards in shipping, tracking, and confidentially storing drug prescribing records.

President Joe Biden’s administration’s endorsement of abortion pills by mail is “an attempt to circumvent the right of states to protect women and children.” It was co-signed by attorneys general in Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia.

The Missouri law was written in 2019 to go into effect immediately if Roe v. Wade was overturned. This law makes it a felony if doctors perform or induce abortions. They could lose their licenses and face 5 to 15 years in prison. Ironically the law also states that women can't be prosecuted for having an abortion.

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