Walgreens announces it will not provide abortion pills in 20 states

DEERFIELD, Illinois: Walgreens has said that it will not sell the abortion pill, Mifepristone, in 20 conservative states, which earlier warned the pharmacy chain of potential legal consequences.

In January, federal authorities finalized a rule change allowing more pharmacies to sell the pill.

In 2022, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Mifepristone to end a pregnancy when used in combination with a second drug, Misoprostol, for up to the 10th week of pregnancy.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights, more than half of US abortions are now done with pills rather than through physical procedures.

In a letter sent in January to Walgreens and CVS, attorneys-general in 20 Republican-led states — Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia — warned Walgreens and rival, CVS, they could face legal action if they sell abortion pills by mail locally.

In addition to state laws, conservative attorneys-general argued that shipments of Mifepristone violated a 19th-century law that prohibited items used in abortion from being sent by mail.

A Walgreens spokesman told the attorneys-general that it would not sell Mifepristone in their states.

However, Walgreens aims to become eligible through the FDA’s certification process and plans to dispense the pills where it can legally sell them.

Some independent pharmacists would like to become certified to dispense the pills, which would be a "personal business decision" based partly on state laws, said Andrea Pivarunas, a spokeswoman for the National Community Pharmacists Association.

In November, an anti-abortion group claimed that the FDA approved Mifepristone in 2000 without adequate evidence of safety and filed a federal lawsuit in Texas with the aim of reversing the drug’s approval.

In January, abortion rights supporters filed separate lawsuits challenging abortion pill restrictions imposed in North Carolina and West Virginia.

Legal experts predict court battles over access to the pills will continue for many years.