What does 1870s Comstock Act have to do with abortion pills?

April 8, 2023  -WASHINGTON (AP) — A 19th century “anti-vice” law is at the center of a new court ruling that threatens access to the leading abortion drug in the U.S.

Dormant for a half-century, the Comstock Act has been revived by anti-abortion groups and conservative states seeking to block the mailing of mifepristone, the pill used in more than half of U.S. abortions.

On Friday, a federal judge in Texas sided with Christian conservatives in ruling that the Comstock Act prohibits sending the long-used drug through the mail.

Here’s a look at the case and the law:


In a sweeping ruling, U.S. District Judge Matthew J. Kacsmaryk said that the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of mifepristone more than two decades ago violated federal rules. Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, the Donald Trump appointee said the FDA overlooked “legitimate safety concerns” with the pill, which has been available since 2000

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