Ahead of Two-Year Anniversary of Dobbs Decision, Spanberger Helps Lead Bicameral Effort to Repeal Antiquated Law Restricting Abortion

The “Stop Comstock Act” Would Block Future Administrations from Using 150-Year-Old Statute to Ban the Mailing of Mifepristone & Other Drugs Used in Medication Abortions

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger today helped introduce bicameral legislation in response to clear intent by extreme politicians and judges to misuse an archaic law from the 1800s — and questions of the law’s applicability by U.S. Supreme Court Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas — to prohibit the mailing of abortion medication, like mifepristone.

The Comstock Act, enacted by Congress and signed into law in 1873, criminalized the use of the mail to transport a wide range of “obscene, lewd, or lascivious” materials, including “any article or thing designed or intended for the prevention of conception or procuring an abortion.” Congress previously amended the Comstock Act in 1971, removing references to contraception following the Supreme Court’s decision in Griswold v. Connecticut which protected the right to access contraception. Although the Comstock Act has not been enforced for decades, the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization to overturn Roe v. Wade raises concerns that extreme politicians, judges, and groups will weaponize the antiquated law to effectively ban the mailing of medication abortion drugs or — if interpreted to its fullest extent — prohibit abortion altogether.

The Stop Comstock Act would repeal language in the Comstock Act that could be used by a future administration to ban the mailing of mifepristone and other drugs used in medication abortions, instruments and equipment used in abortions, and educational material related to sexual health. In 2023, more than 60 percent of abortions in the United States were medication abortions.

“The Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade two years ago swung open the door to allow lawmakers and judges across our country to further strip women of their reproductive rights. Now anti-abortion politicians, judges, and groups are citing a more than 150-year-old statute — put on the books when women in the United States could not vote and could only recently own property in their own names — to further restrict women’s access to abortion or impose a nationwide abortion ban,” said Spanberger. “Congress must repeal this outdated, antiquated statute and remain steadfast in our work to protect access to reproductive care.”

Alongside Spanberger, the Stop Comstock Act is led in the U.S. House by U.S. Representatives Becca Balint (D-VT-AL), Cori Bush (D-MO-01), Veronica Escobar (D-TX-16), Mary Gay Scanlon (D-PA-05), and Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ-12). The U.S. Senate version is led by U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-MN).

The legislation is endorsed by the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Center for Reproductive Rights, Physicians for Reproductive Health, National Women’s Law Center, and Reproductive Freedom for All.

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