As Republican attorneys general threatened the most prominent US drugstore firms with legal ramifications for shipping abortion pills by mail, Walgreens decided to stop selling the abortion medication mifepristone in almost two dozen conservative states.
This decision, first reported by Politico, occurred after attorneys general wrote to Walgreens and CVS stating that mailing abortion medication would violate federal law and abortion legislation in those states. A Walgreens spokesman explained that the company acted in response to the letter.
Once the US Food and Drug Administration decided to allow retail pharmacies to dispense mifepristone pills, including by mail, Walgreens announced plans to become a certified pharmacy to administer the medication in areas where it was lawful.
While certain jurisdictions permit abortions, including medication abortions, the corporation acknowledged on Thursday to Politico that it will not distribute abortion pills to customers in 20 states.
Senator Amy Schumer said, “This is exactly why we need to codify the protections of Roe v Wade and guarantee the right to access care.”
Prominent Democrats criticized the move. Walgreens “caved,” as Adam Schiff put it. Via Twitter, he expressed his disappointment that the health of their clients was not a deeper concern.
This is why, as Senator Amy Schumer put it, “we need to codify the rights of Roe v. Wade and guarantee the right to receive care.”
On Twitter, Christopher Webb said, “Walgreens Loses in the end!”
Walgreens loses in the end!
*Walgreens will not sell abortion pills in 20 GOP states even where abortion is legal. https://t.co/EJZnVjkdaU
— Christopher Webb (@cwebbonline) March 3, 2023
Research From Guttmacher Institute on Abortion Pills
Pill abortion is an essential aspect of sexual health services everywhere. Research from the pro-choice Guttmacher Institute shows that more than half of all abortions in the United States are now performed with oral contraceptives rather than surgical methods. Yet since the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade last June, pharmacological abortion has gained more and more attention.
In light of safety concerns, the FDA has restricted mifepristone’s availability to a select group of specialty clinics and offices for over 20 years. While many women still have difficulty obtaining birth control due to state legislation, the FDA has consistently loosened restrictions and increased access, raising demand.
The news from Walgreens, however, signals that mifepristone availability would not increase to the extent that federal authorities planned in January. The FDA’s ability to control who has access to prescription drugs has generally been accepted without question. After the Supreme Court overturned the federal right to abortion last year, more than a dozen states passed legislation banning abortion generally and the pills specifically.
Conservative state attorneys general have also contended that shipping mifepristone violates a law from the 19th century that forbade the mail delivery of materials used in abortion.
In November, an anti-abortion group in Texas filed a federal lawsuit demanding that the FDA withdraw its clearance of mifepristone because the agency made that decision 23 years ago without sufficient evidence of the drug’s safety.
A federal judge may issue a ruling shortly. Mifepristone’s eventual removal from the US market depends on his decision about abortion. The experts predict that the legal battles over drugs will last for years.
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