Weeks after Republican attorneys general in 21 states sent letters threatening legal action against retail pharmacy chains offering the abortion pill mifepristone, Walgreens said it would no longer distribute the pill in those states.
In January, the Food and Drug Administration said it would allow retail pharmacies to become certified to dispense mifepristone — the strictly regulated drug that is the first pill in the two-drug abortion regimen — Walgreens, CVS and other pharmacies said they had Planned to do so in states where abortion was legal. The American Pharmacists Association said that pharmacies would be very cautious about dispensing in any state where they could be at risk of losing their license or facing other penalties.
The decision taken by Walgreens this week reflects that caution. In four states — Alaska, Iowa, Kansas and Montana — abortion is technically still legal, but there are efforts to restrict it that would apply to abortion pills.
Fraser Engerman, a spokesperson for Walgreens, said, “This is a very complex and fluid area of law, and we are taking that into account when seeking certification.”
He said Walgreens told 20 attorneys general, who jointly signed a letter, and the attorney general of Kansas, who sent a separate letter, that it would not distribute mifepristone in their states.
The decision does not affect the second pill in the drug abortion regimen, misoprostol, which is used for a number of medical conditions and has long been available by prescription at retail pharmacies nationwide.
A spokeswoman for CVS did not immediately answer a question about whether the company had also decided not to distribute mifepristone in those 21 states, but in January, a spokeswoman said, “We will continue to deliver mifepristone when legally permissible.” Planning to seek certification for.”
Politico reported on Walgreens’ decision Thursday night. The chain’s decision to no longer serve pills in Kansas was announced last month.