DOJ says U.S. Postal Service may send abortion drugs through the mail

Federal law "does not prohibit" mailing of drugs if sender assumes legality of use.

Published: January 4, 2023 1:50pm

Updated: January 4, 2023 2:05pm

The U.S. Postal Service is free to continue sending abortion drugs through the mail, the Department of Justice has determined, ending speculation as to whether or not the USPS could face legal challenges for doing so. 

The Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel said in a ruling posted online this week that the shipping of the abortion drugs mifepristone or misoprostol through federal channels is not forbidden by the Comstock Act of 1873, which prohibits certain classes of materials from being sent through U.S mail. 

The drugs in question have some other uses than abortion, the OLC noted, and thus a sender cannot be forbidden from sending the drugs via USPS if he "lacks the intent that the recipient of the drugs will use them unlawfully."

“[T]there are manifold [legal] ways in which recipients in every state may use these drugs,” the ruling noted, arguing that “the mere mailing of such drugs to a particular jurisdiction is an insufficient basis for concluding that the sender intends them to be used unlawfully.”

The ruling comes alongside the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's determination that pharmacies can sell abortion medication under certain conditions.

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