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Arkansas Attorney General sends cease and desist letters to pro-choice organizations

Mifepristone is one of two pills used in medication abortions and is used in the vast majority of such abortions in the United State.
Allen G. Breed
Mifepristone is one of two pills used in medication abortions and is used in the vast majority of such abortions in the United State.

Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin sent cease and desist letters to two companies that he says provide abortion pills through the mail. He accused both Aid Access and Choices Women's Medical Center of violating the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.

“Abortions are prohibited in Arkansas… consequently abortion pills may not legally be shipped to Arkansas,” Griffin's letters to the two companies read.

He called both groups' business practices “false, deceptive and unconscionable.” Griffin threatened them with a $10,000 civil penalty for each violation and said he would take further action if this was not remedied in 14 days. Griffin said the companies are advertising in Arkansas. Jeff LeMaster a representative for the Attorney General said: "language on both of the companies' websites" is what concerns them. He wants both companies to assuage the AGS concerns in writing.

In 2023, the Department of Justice issued an opinion on medication abortion at the behest of Attorney General Merrick Garland. The DOJ said the U.S. Postal Service can legally send abortion pills by mail, because the person sending the mail cannot know how the pills will be used. Griffin said the memo "badly misinterprets federal law, and has no bearing on my enforcement of the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act."

In 2019, Arkansas' trigger law went into effect when the Supreme Court overturned Roe V. Wade. While outlawing abortion except to save the life of the mother, the law does not allow for people to be prosecuted for having an abortion.

Aid Access says its registered in Austria, so they are not beholden to the Arkansas Attorney General. The letter the Attorney General Wrote is addressed to the Netherlands. The company says they do not advertise in the United States. The company promises to ship abortion pills like mifepristone in three to five days, with services available in all 50 states. They disagree that what they do violates American laws. Dr Rebecca Gomperts, the group's director sent this statement over.

"It is very important that women living in Arkansas who obtain the abortion pills and use it to end their pregnancies know that they are allowed to do that and are not breaking the law."

In a statement to Little Rock Public Radio, Merle Hoffman, founder of the New York-based Choices Women's Medical Center, said she's adamant the letter does not apply to her company.

“Choices is not shipping abortion pills anywhere,” she said. “Nothing is going in the mail from Choices."

Hoffman added the message from the attorney general is a "further attack on the human rights of women."

Copyright 2024 KUAR

Josie Lenora is a news anchor and reporter for KUAR News at Little Rock Public Radio. She has listened to KUAR and NPR since she was a young child growing up in Little Rock and says she is thrilled to give back to an organization she loves. Josie was previously an intern in the fall of 2021 assisting in production, then spent another semester with the station interning in the newsroom in the spring of 2022.