Dems Seek Comstock Act Repeal to Prevent Trump Abortion Ban

( – Although Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has often spoken out against the most hardline pro-life activists in his own party, many liberals fear that if he’s elected again in November, that could lead to a federal ban on abortion. In an attempt to stave that off, they’re now launching an indirect attack. It’s focused on repealing a 19th-century obscenity law, which nowadays is only used to prosecute child pornographers.

Dems Want Law Change

The 1873 Act for the Suppression of Trade in, and Circulation of, Obscene Literature and Articles of Immoral Use, usually referred to as the Comstock Act, has always been controversial. In the 1920s, conservative writer HL Mencken frequently blasted it and adopted the word “comstockery” to mean censorship.

Other critics pointed out that while the Comstock Act banned sending obscene materials through the mail, it never actually defined what “obscene” meant, giving prosecutors with an agenda a dangerous amount of freedom. From WWII on, the law gradually began to fade away, with many law experts calling it a “zombie law.”

However, with the growth of child pornography, the Comstock Act became useful again; everyone could agree that it was obscene, and the law was a useful tool for prosecuting the perpetrators. President Reagan amended the Comstock Act to make it more effective against child abusers, and since the early 2010s, there’s been a steady uptick in prosecutions under the law.

No sane person can complain about prosecuting child pornographers, but there’s a problem. As well as obscene material, the Comstock Act also prohibits using the mail to send threats of violence, treasonous material –- or “Articles containing means for procuring abortion.” The last of these has made the law a target for congressional Democrats. On June 20, Senator Tina Smith (D-MN) introduced the Stop Comstock Act to weaken the law, while Representative Becca Balint (D-VT) will soon bring a similar bill into the House.

Both bills aim to remove the section of the Comstock Act that refers to abortion, claiming this is necessary to prevent a new Trump administration from using the old law to ban mifepristone and other abortion drugs being sent by mail. The problem is that our courts decided long ago that the Comstock Act’s abortion restrictions only apply to illegal abortions. It doesn’t cover legal ones at all, so all the Democrat bills would achieve is to remove vital protection against women being harmed by illegal abortionists –- while also weakening our best defense against child pornography.

~Here’s to Our Liberty!

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