Mail and emails about our bodies and our choices, that’s nobody’s business

The last time I looked, the WE The postal service is a federal, not a state service, and distributing abortion pills by mail from a pro-choice state to an anti-abortion state is nobody’s business, especially the business of a state where a person lives. The last time I looked, the Federal The Drug Administration determines the safety of a drug and the FDA has decided that abortion pills are safe.

I’m not a legal expert but I don’t know exactly who is after reading sundries on the topic of mail delivery, including one on the pharmaceutical company, GenBioPro Inc., a generic maker of the FDA-approved abortion pill, mifepristone.

The Mississippi Free Press recently reported that GenBioPro asked a court to allow the company to ship abortion pills to Mississippi, one of 14 states which prohibits or partially prohibits mifepristone and misoprostol.

Both of these drugs send far fewer patients to the hospital than Tylenol, Viagra, and many other widely used drugs easily obtained from a pharmacy or doctor. Although not widely known until after Roe’s reversal against Wade, the pills cause the majority of abortions today, and half of abortions are done at home.

Target Mail Order Abortion Pills

With its Republican Attorney General Lynn Fitch in tow, Mississippi joined a group of other anti-abortion states trying to stop women from buying abortion pills. Mississippi argues in the GenBioPro Inc. case that federal law already makes selling abortion pills a felony punishable by up to five years in prison, and that prescription drug companies could even face racketeering charges, although both arguments are disputed.

Still, that won’t stop Attorney General Fitch from suing us if we buy an abortion pill for a girl or woman in Mississippi, thanks in part to the complete lack of online privacy. Women and girls can no longer trust anyone with the consequences of a decision to buy an abortion pill. Facebook recently stole messages online between a young Nebraska woman and her mother about abortion pills. Facebook turned the posts over to a prosecutor last summer, and the mother and daughter were charged with violating various Nebraska laws.

Louisiana and Mississippi lead the nation in online inquiries about medications for self-managed abortions, studies show. Abortion rights supporters, like those at this October 2, 2021 protest in Jackson, believe that most clinic abortions may soon become illegal. Photo by Ashton Pittman

Fighting for women’s right to choose, including the right to buy FDA-approved medicine online, no matter where she lives, is underway in many states. Who wins these legal battles will be up in the air for years unless the Biden administration add equal rights amendment to the US Constitution, granting women the rights to which they are entitled, including the right to choose an abortion. It doesn’t look like that will be happening anytime soon, unfortunately.

Arguing over who controls the delivery of mail across state lines and what laws take precedence is extremely complicated with respect to First Amendment rights, online and home privacy rights, and other federal laws. Numerous state laws could result in the arrest not only of providers of abortion pills, but also non-profit organizations, family members and friends who help women have abortions, as well as even women who choose to abort.

The FDA as pharmacy, protector?

A court ruling requiring states to allow mail order abortion pills until the lawsuit is resolved would keep women safe for months or even years.

Allowing drug companies to mail abortion pills to all states will give women their rights under Federal laws already in place and will ensure that potentially dangerous pills from corrupt foreign and domestic companies are not offered as a deceptive form of relief, resulting from state bans on bona fide pharmaceutical companies selling FDA-approved pills.

Banning something that people need or want always results in the illegal traffic of a more expensive and potentially dangerous version of the ban.

The Federal Drug Administration is a powerful agency whose mission is to protect people from dangerous products. Thus, the FDA could become the “corporation” that sells the abortion pill to women, while protecting the pharmaceutical companies that manufacture safe abortion pills.

Various contraceptive pills and devices sit on a blue background
Karen Hinton writes that women cannot be “wards of a state that will dictate what medical advice women should follow. As wards, women in non-choice states will no longer be full US citizens. Photo by Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition on Unsplash

Turning the FDA into a pharmacy might be a drastic idea, but taking away the right to buy anything currently legal online is even more drastic, severely affecting more than half of the American population, from teenage girls to grandmothers wanting to s ensure their granddaughters have the same rights they had for the past 50 years.

Despite assurances from some states that women “caught” having abortions are not punished, they have become witnesses for the prosecution, “exposed to all these things that are dehumanizing and humiliating, so it’s just a side note that they won’t be criminally investigated,” said Farah Diaz-TelloSenior Counsel and Legal Director of If/When/How, a non-profit reproductive justice organization.

In a co-authored editorial with author and business owner Francis McInerney, we write that after the Roe reversal, women are now “wards of a state that will dictate the medical advice women should take.” As wards, women in non-choice states will no longer be full US citizens. They will be put “in their place”, which means that women will realize that they are not as important, respected or influential.

Anti-abortion states now own the women who live there, own them like property, and give them no choice, no privacy, no options, except to leave the state they call home.

This MFP Voices essay does not necessarily represent the views of the Mississippi Free Press, its staff, or its board members. To submit an essay for the MFP Voices section, send up to 1,200 words and fact-checking information to [email protected] We welcome a wide variety of viewpoints.

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