Leading drug store chain, Walgreens, announced on March 2, 2023, that they will no longer be providing abortion pills in the pharmacy across several states. Despite the FDA approval and sales of the drug being legal in several states across the country, the company has fallen to pressure from state officials and anti-abortion advocates.
Around two dozen Republican state attorneys reached out to Walgreens threatening legal action against the company if they continued the sales of the drugs. The company responded quickly assuring officials that they would not continue with the sales either by mail or in-store.
Walgreens has decided it won’t offer the drug mifepristone in 21 states. All of those states have either outlawed abortion, introduced legislation, or have a court date coming up that would forbid distribution.
“In my letter to Walgreens, we made clear that Kansas will not hesitate to enforce the laws against mailing and dispensing abortion pills, including bringing a RICO action to enforce the federal law prohibiting the mailing of abortion pills,” Kansas Attorney General Kris Kobach said in a statement. “Evidently, Walgreens understood that my office was serious about this. I’m grateful that Walgreens responded quickly and reasonably and intends to comply with the relevant laws.”
The debate over access to abortion pills is a highly charged issue in the United States, with strong opinions on both sides. Access to safe and legal abortion, according to pro-choice advocates, is a fundamental right for women. They argue that it is essential that women have access to a range of options when it comes to their reproductive health, including abortion pills.
California responded to Walgreens’ news in a very surprising way. Governor Gavin Newsom announced the state will not be renewing a $54 million dollar contract with the drug store chain.
The situation with Walgreens and California highlights the blurred lines of abortion rights since the overturn of Roe v. Wade. Even in places where there are no bans or restrictions, officials are still dealing with opposition from the government and activists who are trying to block the availability of services.
E. Michael Murphy, the adviser for state government affairs for the American Pharmacists Association, stated to POLITICO his members are struggling with the “blatant contradictions between state and federal law that make it very challenging to identify what is legal and what is not legal.”
Newsom’s decision to cut ties with the company highlights California’s continuous moves to make sure the state is a safe haven for those seeking access to an abortion. The governor along with legislative Democrats have already collected millions of dollars to enact new laws for safe abortion access.
It is clear that access to reproductive healthcare is a complex issue that requires careful consideration. The situation at Walgreens in California highlights the ongoing debate over access to abortion pills and the role of pharmacists in providing healthcare services. While there are valid arguments on both sides, it is essential that women have access to a range of options regarding their reproductive health, and that these options are safe and accessible. It remains to be seen how this controversy will play out, but it is clear that the issue of reproductive healthcare will continue to be a contentious and important issue in the years to come.