New York Gov. Kathy Hochul and state Attorney General Letitia James on Thursday called on the CEOs of major pharmacy chains to reject anti-abortion pressure and pledge they’ll continue dispensing a medication abortion drug.
Walgreens, which runs New York-based Duane Reade, last week said it wouldn’t fulfill prescriptions for mifepristone in 20 GOP-led states after state attorneys general warned the company not to do so.
Access to abortion pills appears to be the next battle on the abortion rights front after the Supreme Court overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade decision last summer, enabling some states to restrict the medical procedure. California quickly reacted to Walgreens’ retreat, with Gov. Gavin Newsom cutting ties to the company and saying a $54 million contract won’t be renewed.
Hochul and James called on drugstores operating in New York to not give in to anti-abortion pressure.
“We urge you not to allow these tactics to intimidate you, and to commit to making this critical medication available as widely as possible, based on a fair and unbiased interpretation of state and federal law,” they said in a letter to the CEOs of Walgreens, RiteAid and CVS.
“Even as access to this medication is under threat elsewhere for political reasons, we remind you that New York’s law is simple,” Hochul and James continued. “Abortion is legal and protected as a fundamental right under state law, and there are no legal barriers to dispensing mifepristone in New York pharmacies.”
California’s governor on Wednesday assailed Walgreens following the company’s decision to stop dispensing abortion pills in 20 states.
“California will not stand by as corporations cave to extremists and cut off critical access to reproductive care and freedom,” Newsom said in a statement. “California is on track to be the fourth largest economy in the world and we will leverage our market power to defend the right to choose.”
A Walgreens spokesperson said the company was “deeply disappointed” by Newsom’s decision. The company clarified its position after the California controversy with a statement saying it would continue to dispense mifepristone “in any jurisdiction where it is legally permissible to do so.”
New York does not currently have any contracts with Walgreens, Politico reported.
Earlier this year, the Food and Drug Administration announced that Americans would be able to receive abortion pills at retail pharmacies — a move that expanded access to medication abortion. The FDA states mifepristone is safe and can be used to in conjunction with another drug, misoprostol, “to end a pregnancy through ten weeks gestation.”
Medication abortion accounts for over half of abortions in the U.S., according to the Guttmacher Institute.