The national pharmacy chain Walgreens will not sell the abortion medication Mifepristone in 20 states dominated by Republicans. The US Food and Drug Administration has approved the drug as safe and effective; the majority of abortions in the United States are medication abortions.
The decision follows a demand from the attorneys general of those states sent to Walgreens, its rival pharmacies CVS and RiteAid, and big box and grocery stores with pharmacies like Kroger and WalMart. No other chains have announced a change in policy that would prevent patients from receiving prescribed medication.
“We intend to be a certified pharmacy and will distribute Mifepristone only in those jurisdictions where it is legal and operationally feasible,” Walgreens said. The company later tweeted, “We want to be very clear about what our position has always been: Walgreens plans to dispense Mifepristone in any jurisdiction where it is legally permissible to do so.”
Investigative journalist Judd Legum, however, pointed out that the company’s claim isn’t true. The company reportedly told Kansas Attorney General Kris Kobach that it would not dispense the medicine in the state. Kansas does not ban abortion.
“And it made similar statements to Republican AGs in other states where abortion is legal,” he tweeted in response to the Walgreens statement, along with a copy of a letter the company had sent back in response to the attorneys general.
“Walgreens does not intend to dispense Mifepristone within your state,” the chain wrote, “and does not intend to ship Mifepristone into your state from any of our pharmacies.”
Similar letters were sent to attorneys general in Kansas, Alaska, Florida, Iowa, Montana, Indiana, Ohio, North Dakota, South Carolina, and Utah, Legum reported. None of those states ban abortion.
“BTW,” he continued, “@Walgreens has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to anti-abortion politicians and committees over the last few years, including $25,000 to @RepublicanAGs AFTER the group said the money would be used to restrict abortion rights.”
California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) quickly announced the state would respond powerfully. The state will immediately end its partnership with the chain, costing the company millions of dollars.
“California won’t be doing business with @walgreens – or any company that cowers to the extremists and puts women’s lives at risk,” Newsom tweeted.
Customers also flooded the chain’s Twitter account with calls for a boycott and messages saying they would switch providers. Many wondered how far the chain would go if directed by the government not to provide lifesaving medication. The chain already allows pharmacists the option to refuse to provide abortion medication for “religious reasons” if they inform customers of where they can get it.
“I transferred all of my prescriptions to Costco,” one user responded to the chain’s tweet. “You don’t value women’s freedom. Why would we choose you?”
“Mifepristone was approved by the FDA more than 2 decades ago. Neither politicians nor judges are qualified to determine if a medication is safe,” another user sent back. “You seem more concerned about politics than your customers’ well-being.”
“You’re fooling nobody, you anti-choice bootlicking cowards,” someone else tweeted. “#BoycottWalgreens”