Letters Advise Companies of Federal, State Laws Restricting Distribution of Abortion Drugs 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) and James Lankford (R-Okla.) led colleagues in letters to seven major U.S. pharmacies that warn them of their obligations under federal and state laws, including longstanding federal laws that criminalize the mailing and interstate shipment of abortion drugs.

U.S. Senators Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Roger Marshall, M.D. (R-Kan.), James Risch (R-Idaho), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) also signed the letters, the most critical of which were sent to CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aid for their intent to be certified to dispense abortion drugs.  

Four additional letters were issued to Walmart, Albertsons, Costco, and Kroger encouraging them to maintain their current decisions not to seek abortion drug distribution certification.

“We write to express our support and agreement with 21 State Attorneys General, who have reminded you that Federal law in 18 U.S.C. 1461-1462 criminalizes nationwide using the mail, or interstate shipment by any express company or common carrier, to send or receive any drug that is ‘designed, adapted, or intended for producing abortion,’” the Senators wrote.

The letters express the Senators’ intent to hold pharmacies that dispense abortion drugs accountable under federal criminal laws that restrict the distribution of abortion drugs both upstream from manufacturers to pharmacies and downstream from pharmacies to individual patients.  The Senators reject the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Legal Council (OLC) memo that wrongfully advised that 18 U.S.C. 1461 and 1462 only apply in cases where an abortion is unlawful.

“OLC is not authorized to give legal advice to private persons, let alone immunize private parties involved in the commission of Federal crimes,” the Senators warned.

Finally, the Senators also seek additional clarity from CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aid regarding where and how they intend to distribute abortion drugs, and how they will abide by both state abortion laws and the plain requirements of federal law against the mailing or interstate shipment of abortion drugs anywhere in the United States.

The Senators’ action is supported by Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, National Right to Life, March for Life Action, Family Research Council, Students for Life Action, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Pro-Life Activities, Heritage Action, Americans United for Life, Catholic Vote, Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, Scholars at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, Family Policy Alliance, Concerned Women for America LSV, American Association of Pro Life OB/GYNS.

Letters to CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aid available here.

Letters to Walmart, Albertsons, Costco, and Kroger available here.