Attorney General Tim Griffin Brian Chilson

Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin sent cease-and-desist letters to a New York-based health care provider and a European reproductive rights nonprofit that market (and apparently ship) abortion-inducing medication to Arkansans, Griffin said Tuesday in a press release.

Abortion has been almost entirely illegal in Arkansas since the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2022 decision overturning Roe v. Wade. A trigger law took effect in Arkansas almost immediately, banning abortions even in cases of rape or incest or when a mother’s health is in jeopardy. State law now permits abortion only to save the mother’s life, though what constitutes life-saving care is itself a matter of dispute.

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Because most abortions are now performed with medication rather than surgery, even hard-line anti-abortion states like Arkansas have difficulty enforcing their bans: It’s far easier to order a pill in the mail than to travel out of state for a surgical abortion. Each month, about 8,000 women in states with strict abortion laws were receiving pills in the mail as of the end of last year, according to the Associated Press.

Arkansas is among the Republican-controlled states seeking to roll back access to abortion pills nationwide in a lawsuit. But in the meantime, Griffin is throwing down the gauntlet on two groups that provide the medication by mail: Choices Women’s Medical Center, Inc., which is based in Queens, New York, and Aid Access of the Netherlands.

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Griffin focuses not on the shipping itself but the marketing of the pills, which he says potentially violates a state law against false advertising, the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.

“Abortions are prohibited in Arkansas except under very limited circumstances,” he said in a statement Tuesday. “As such, abortion pills may not be legally shipped to Arkansans or brought into the State for use by Arkansans. My office has verified that both Choices Women’s Medical Center, Inc., and Aid Access are advertising the availability of abortion-inducing pills to Arkansans in contravention of our laws.”

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Googling “abortion pills Arkansas” brings up both organizations in the search results, among others, and both appear to have pages that appeal specifically to Arkansans. Here’s the one for Aid Access, which sells the pills needed to induce a medication abortion for around $150 and declares orders will ship within 1-5 days. Here’s the one for Choices Women’s Medical Center.

The Choices Women’s Medical Center website has other offerings for women who need abortion care but live in states that don’t allow it. That includes surgical abortions performed in New York: “We can help you with travel details including airfare and housing, the costs of your trip, and the cost of your abortion.” Appointments are usually available within days, and New York state allows abortion up to 24 weeks without age restrictions, waiting periods or notification requirements for parents or partners, the website says.

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Griffin’s cease-and-desist letter targets only the medication abortions happening within Arkansas state lines.

Griffin said the companies “must cease and desist advertising relating to the performance of abortion services in Arkansas immediately or face the possibility of lawsuits from my office.”

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Update: Arkansans for Limited Government, a group working to place a constitutional amendment on the November ballot that would restore abortion access in the state, issued the following statement about Griffin’s cease-and-desist letters:

The Attorney General’s announcement today makes it even more critical that the Arkansas Abortion Amendment is on the ballot in November. The state government is working every angle at its disposal to ensure that Arkansas women in need of abortion care have no options for accessing it, which, as research shows, puts their lives at risk. Arkansans who believe that the government should not have the power to interfere in their healthcare decision making need to work the angles at our disposal to fight back. That means leveraging the most effective tool we have: direct democracy. Every Arkansan who is angry about or even slightly skeptical of the Attorney General’s threat to out-of-state clinics should sign the petition to get the Amendment on November’s ballot. It’s the only way we can guarantee access to healthcare in our state.