Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Mifepristone

A package of mifepristone is seen in 2001. The pill is one of two used in medication abortions. (Photo: Stormi Greener/Star Tribune via Getty Images)

House Dems Urge Private Mail Carriers to Protect Access to Abortion Pills

"Extremists have indicated they'll use every trick in the book to prevent Americans from obtaining abortions, including through legal home delivery," said Rep. Katie Porter.

Julia Conley

Five Democratic lawmakers called on private mail companies on Wednesday to ensure their customers' privacy rights are protected as more people are likely to rely on the mail to obtain medication abortions.

"In the event that your employees become aware that a package in their possession contains abortion medication, they are under no obligation to alert law enforcement."

Reps. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.), Dean Phillips (D-Minn.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), Cori Bush (D-Mo.), and Katie Porter (D-Calif.) wrote to FedEx, UPS, and DHL, asking for a closed briefing with the companies to learn what steps they are taking to make sure protections against unreasonable search and seizure are upheld.

"In the wake of the recent U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health, certain state and local law enforcement entities may attempt to prevent access to safe, effective, and legal abortion medication by seizing deliveries while in transit," wrote the Democrats.

The letter comes nearly a month after the high court's ruling overturned Roe v. Wade, swiftly ending access to legal abortion for millions of people in states including Texas, Missouri, and Mississippi.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) lifted restrictions on sending abortion pills via mail last year, but Republican state legislators began cracking down on access this year prior to the Supreme Court ruling. Texas passed a law making it a felony to provide the pills—misoprostol and mifepristone—through the mail after passing its six-week abortion ban last year. Tennessee Republican Gov. Bill Lee signed a similar bill in May, and lawmakers in Missouri have proposed classifying the mailing of abortion pills as drug trafficking.

Nineteen states have also banned the use of telemedicine to provide medication abortions, which account for more than half of all abortions in the United States.

"Extremists have indicated they'll use every trick in the book to prevent Americans from obtaining abortions, including through legal home delivery," said Porter. 

The lawmakers urged the three companies to recognize that "in the event that your employees become aware that a package in their possession contains abortion medication, they are under no obligation to alert law enforcement, as this medication is FDA-approved and therefore legal."

"In the event that state or local law enforcement request to search packages in your company's possession for abortion medication, we urge you to uphold your customers' constitutional protections against unreasonable search and seizure by requiring that law enforcement provide a search warrant before giving officers access to company premises or property," they wrote.

Bush said people who need abortion care in her home state of Missouri will likely rely on companies like FedEx to protect their right to privacy if they obtain care through the mail.

"At a time when states like Missouri are enacting far-right extremist, harmful abortion bans, Congress has a responsibility to do everything we can to safeguard people's privacy and protect access to abortion care," said Bush.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Economists Fear Fed Minutes Show Central Bank Bent on 'Unleashing Mass Unemployment'

Continued interest rate hikes "risk a recession throwing millions out of work," a pair of experts warned.

Jake Johnson ·


Watchdog: Secret Service Didn't Notify Capitol Police of Threat to Pelosi Until After Jan. 6 Attack

"This is deeply disturbing and requires a full investigation," said one legal expert.

Jessica Corbett ·


Advocates Welcome Temporary Block on South Carolina's 6-Week Abortion Ban

"Today's decision is a huge relief for people who desperately need abortion care in South Carolina right now," said one reproductive rights lawyer.

Brett Wilkins ·


Federal Court Strikes Down Ruling That Blocked Biden's Drilling Moratorium

"Today's decision demonstrates how flawed the preliminary injunction issued in June 2021 was, and that Interior must quickly take action to reform the federal fossil fuel program," said one environmental lawyer.

Julia Conley ·


Two Weeks Before Payments Resume, Progressives Tell Biden 'Time to Cancel Student Debt'

U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said that "we're having conversations daily with the White House and borrowers will know directly and soon from us when a decision is made."

Jessica Corbett ·

Common Dreams Logo