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Tags: tina smith | comstock act | abortion | donald trump

Fearing Trump Abortion Ban, Dems Seek Comstock Act Repeal

By    |   Thursday, 20 June 2024 06:43 PM EDT

Fearing a victory by Donald Trump in November will lead to a national ban on abortion, congressional Democrats are seeking to repeal the Comstock Act, a 151-year-old law that experts and advocates on both sides of the debate say could be used to prohibit abortion-related materials from being sent through the mail.

Sen. Tina Smith, D-Minn., on Thursday introduced the Stop Comstock Act, which would repeal language in the 1873 law that could be used by an anti-abortion administration to ban the mailing of mifepristone and other drugs used in medicated abortions — the most common method of abortion in the U.S., according to the Guttmacher Institute — as well as instruments and equipment used in abortions and educational material related to sexual health.

Rep. Becca Balint, D-Vt., will be introducing the House companion bill.

"Extremist Republicans and Trump judges have seized upon the idea of misusing Comstock to bypass Congress and strip women nationwide of their reproductive freedoms," Smith said in a news release. "When MAGA Republicans say they intend to use the Comstock Act to control women's decisions and enact a backdoor national abortion ban, we should believe them.

"Now that Trump has overturned Roe, a future Republican administration could try to misapply this 150-year-old Comstock law to deny American women their rights, even in states where abortion rights are protected by state law."

Trump has not publicly addressed the Comstock Act, other than saying in an April Time magazine interview, "I feel very strongly about it. I actually think it's a very important issue."

He has consistently said the matter of abortion should be left to the states after the Supreme Court ruled in 2022 the procedure no longer is a guaranteed federal right. He has advocated for abortion restrictions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

Medicated abortions can be done up to 10 weeks of pregnancy.

"Congressional Republicans and their allies in statehouses across the country are out of step with the American people — they will stop at nothing to enact extreme policies that put women's lives at risk," Balint said in a news release.

"We know Americans want the freedom to make decisions about their own bodies. It's time we take immediate action to stop Republicans from abusing the Comstock Act to further erode our reproductive rights."

The Comstock Act prohibits the mailing of "obscene, lewd, lascivious, indecent, filthy or vile article, matter, thing, device, or substance" or any "article or thing designed, adapted, or intended for producing abortion, or for any indecent or immoral use."

Congress in 1971 removed the law's provisions concerning contraception. And after Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973, guaranteeing a federal right to abortion, the act was effectively rendered dormant.

But now that the federal right to abortion has ended, pro-abortion activists fear the Comstock Act could be used as a roadmap by anti-abortion activists for a national ban. The act was further given credence by Supreme Court Justices Samuel Alito and Calrence Thomas in oral arguments in a lawsuit seeking to halt the availability of mifepristone. But the Supreme Court unanimously threw out the lawsuit in a ruling on June 13.

Newsmax reached out to a Trump spokesman for comment.

Michael Katz

Michael Katz is a Newsmax reporter with more than 30 years of experience reporting and editing on news, culture, and politics.

© 2024 Newsmax. All rights reserved.


Politics
Congressional Democrats are seeking to repeal the Comstock Act, a 151-year-old law that experts and advocates on both sides of the debate say could be used to prohibit abortion-related materials from being sent through the mail.
tina smith, comstock act, abortion, donald trump
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2024-43-20
Thursday, 20 June 2024 06:43 PM
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