Texas Advocacy Group Targets New Mexico with Controversial Mail Ban, Restricting Access to Abortion

Abortion restrictions are gaining traction across the United States, with Texas at the forefront. However, the impact of these measures extends beyond state lines. New Mexico, known as a more liberal state when it comes to reproductive rights, has also become a target. Proponents of abortion bans are employing new tactics to limit access, prompting a legal battle that could have far-reaching consequences.

In an effort to hinder abortion provision, anti-abortion activists in New Mexico have passed ordinances that effectively ban the practice. These ordinances prohibit clinics from receiving abortion-inducing drugs or any related paraphernalia. By cutting off the clinics’ access to necessary supplies, advocates of these laws argue, they effectively prevent them from performing abortions. This has led to clinics facing charges of violating the newly enacted ordinances, even if they were complying with the state’s existing laws.

Supporters of these measures draw inspiration from the Comstock Act, a federal law passed in the late 19th century that sought to restrict the distribution of materials deemed obscene or immoral. Anti-abortion groups argue that the Comstock Act applies to abortion-inducing drugs, asserting that the FDA’s approval of these drugs violates the law’s prohibition on using the mail to send such substances. They now turn to the courts, hoping for a ruling that affirms the applicability of the Comstock Act and broadens its scope.

One case, filed by the Christian right group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) against the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), challenges the FDA’s approval of mifepristone, a commonly used drug in abortion procedures. ADF contends that mifepristone is a “dangerous, chemical abortion drug,” contrary to existing research. They rely on the Comstock Act to argue that the FDA’s approval violates the law’s provisions.

The Department of Justice, however, issued a memo countering this argument. According to the memo, the Comstock Act’s restrictions on mailing drugs only apply if the pills are sent “unlawfully.” Since mifepristone is legally available by mail, the memo states that it does not constitute a violation of the Comstock Act. This legal battle in Texas raises crucial questions about the interpretation and applicability of the Comstock Act and its impact on abortion access nationwide.

The outcome of these legal challenges could have dire consequences for reproductive rights, not only in Texas but also in states like New Mexico. Abortion advocates are closely monitoring the situation, as any favorable rulings toward the Comstock Act’s application would significantly hamper access to abortion services. With the landmark Roe v. Wade decision no longer providing a sturdy legal foundation, the pro-choice movement faces an uphill battle in protecting women’s reproductive rights.

This ongoing legal saga underscores the continued fight for control over reproductive health and the lasting impact of historical legislation on current abortion debates. As the battle over abortion rages on, both sides are marshaling their resources and arguments, each aiming to shape the future of reproductive rights in the United States.