Dems Seek to Repeal Comstock Act to Prevent National Abortion Ban

( – A Trump victory might lead to a national abortion ban. Congressional Democrats are pushing to repeal the Comstock Act, a 151-year-old law that could block abortion-related materials from being mailed.

Sen. Tina Smith (D-MN) introduced the Stop Comstock Act to repeal parts of the 1873 law. This would prevent an anti-abortion administration from banning the mailing of mifepristone and other abortion drugs, as well as related instruments and educational materials. Rep. Becca Balint (D-VT) is introducing the House companion bill. Smith highlighted the risk of Republicans and Trump judges misusing the Comstock Act to bypass Congress and strip women nationwide of reproductive freedoms.

The Comstock Act bans mailing “obscene, lewd, lascivious, indecent, filthy or vile articles” or anything intended for abortion. Congress removed the contraception provisions in 1971. After Roe v. Wade in 1973, which guaranteed a federal right to abortion, the Act was essentially dormant. However, with the end of the federal right to abortion, activists fear it could be revived to enforce a national ban. Supreme Court Justices Alito and Thomas recently referenced the Act in a lawsuit about mifepristone’s availability, though the Court dismissed the suit on June 13th.

Democrats introduced legislation to prevent a future Trump administration from using the Comstock Act to restrict or ban abortion. They are concerned that anti-abortion activists, working with former Trump officials, are preparing to use the Act to block abortion drugs and materials, effectively making abortions impossible without needing new legislation. Despite these efforts, repealing the Comstock Act faces challenges in a divided Congress, with Republicans blocking recent bills on contraception and in vitro fertilization.

Abortion rights groups, including Planned Parenthood and the ACLU, support the Democrats’ efforts. This legislative push comes after the Supreme Court’s 2022 decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, leaving abortion regulation to the states. As many states restrict or ban abortion, Democrats aim to enforce access, though legislative progress is held up due to Republican opposition.

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