South Dakota to Prosecute ‘Abortion Pill’ Shippers

( – Politicians on the left and right are readying for battle on prescription drugs that induce abortions or prevent pregnancy. On January 24, Republican South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, along with state Attorney General Marty Jackley, sent a letter to pharmacies in the state threatening felony prosecution for any pharmacies that ship the drugs to South Dakota residents.

South Dakota law bans all abortions except in cases where pregnancy endangers the life of the mother.

Meanwhile, President Joe Biden released a memo on January 23 endorsing the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) recent rule changes on dispensing the drug mifepristone. The drug ends pregnancies of 70 days or fewer by blocking hormones necessary to keep the uterus in a state that can support pregnancy.

This month the FDA dropped a requirement that the drug be dispensed in person, opening the door to mail-order shipment. 

The Biden memo describes a number of actions the President wants the FDA and other agencies to take to “protect” what it calls “access to abortion care.” Though the memo does not directly threaten legal action against states that ban the dispensation of mifepristone, it does imply the federal government will be aggressive in eliminating “barriers” to abortion.

South Dakota’s Governor Noem’s joint letter with state AG Mackley said the state will enforce all laws that “respect and protect the lives of the unborn.”

Not all states allow the mail-order delivery of drugs like mifepristone. For example, the FDA rule change will not affect the citizens of Arizona. The state bars this practice and requires in-person counseling, a 24-hour waiting period, and then a further in-office visit before an abortion can be performed (either medication-induced or surgical).

The fight over abortion medication through the mail is likely to heat up as 22 state attorneys general sent a letter to the FDA warning that they would enforce state law blocking the dispensation of mifepristone. 

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