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FDA lifts restriction on getting abortion pills by mail. What does this mean for Texas?

FDA now allows abortion pills to be sent by mail. However, mailing abortion pills is illegal in Texas. Here's what that means.

AUSTIN, Texas — On Thursday, the FDA permanently lifted a restriction on abortion medication. Their decision allows women to receive abortion pills by mail without going to a clinic in person.

But not every woman will be able to take advantage of this decision.

Texas Senate Bill 4, which the legislature passed during the second special session, went into effect on Dec. 2. This bill makes it illegal to give an abortion-inducing drug to a woman, makes getting abortion pills in the mail illegal, and bans abortions using the pills after seven weeks.

So, KVUE went to a legal expert to ask what that means for Texas.

"FDA merely said that it's permissible to send these pills over the mail, but the states still have the power to prohibit these pills from being received," said Josh Blackman, a constitutional law professor at South Texas College of Law. "So, I don't think anything really changes now in Texas."

In short: Texas law trumps the FDA.

However, experts said the FDA's decision may make it easier for Texans to ignore and break state law, to get their hands on those pills anyway.

"No matter how hard Texas enforces its current laws and other laws that may come along," lawyer David Coale said. "Restricting abortion and restricting access to these medicines, the fact that it's so much easier to transmit it by now is going to give people more access to it one way or another."

Coale said it's hard for Texas to extend its abortion restrictions beyond its borders. The state can only regulate what goes on in Texas.

"Mail is regulated by the federal government," added Coal. "It's in the Constitution. Congress has the authority to create a post office and post roads. So, from the minute it goes in the mail to when it gets to the mailbox, that's a matter of federal law. Now, once you open the mailbox and take it out, then you take an issue of state law comes up."


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