DOJ's decision to allow USPS to continue delivering abortion medications doesn’t impact Texas much

The Department of Justice decided on Tuesday to allow the U.S. Postal Service to continue delivering abortion medications to states that limit access, but it is still illegal for manufacturers to send the drugs to Texas.

The decision on the Comstock Act focuses on postal workers, stating postal workers cannot be held liable for medications they happen to handle in passing through the mail, but others can be held accountable.

The U.S. Assistant Attorney General wrote in the opinion, "There are manifold ways in which recipients in every state may use these drugs, including to produce an abortion, without violating state law. Therefore, 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 opinion does not preclude state or local prosecutors from using state laws to charge people criminally. Texas Senate Bill 4 makes it a felony offense to illegally transport the abortion-causing drugs by mail or other means, so out of state offenders could be extradited to Texas and stand trial.

"It’s really about protecting women," Texas Alliance for Life Communications Director Amy O’Donnell said.

O’Donnell said banning mail-order abortion drugs in Texas ensures women are not put at risk.

"A woman cannot receive abortion inducing drugs without first seeing a physician who can ascertain how long her pregnancy is gestationally, whether a woman is RH negative, and if a woman has an ectopic pregnancy and receives those drugs in the mail, it can cost her life," O’Donnell said.

The FDA states the use of Mifepristone in a regimen with Misoprostol is safe and effective for the medical termination of early pregnancy.

Planned Parenthood Federation of America President and CEO Alexis McGill Johnson said in a statement:

"Today’s news is a step in the right direction for health equity. Being able to access your prescribed medication abortion through the mail or to pick it up in person from a pharmacy like any other prescription is a game changer for people trying to access basic health care. While we’re still fighting against bans and restrictions on medication abortion at the state level, it’s critical that people in states where abortion is legal have access to care. Today’s changes will help millions of people have more access to the care they need, when they need it.

Mifepristone is safe and effective, and has been used by more than four million people since the FDA approved it more than 20 years ago. Leading medical associations, such as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and American Academy of Family Physicians, have maintained the FDA’s long-standing restrictions on Mifepristone, including the in-person dispensing requirements, provide no safety benefit."

The Texas abortion ban does not criminalize patients who receive and take abortion medication.