GOP attorneys general warn CVS, Walgreens against mailing abortion pill in their states
Mifepristone (Mifeprex) and misoprostol, the two drugs used in a medical abortion, are seen June 17, 2022 at the Women’s Reproductive Clinic in Santa Teresa, New Mexico, which provides legal medical abortion services.
Robyn Beck | AFP | Getty Images
Republican attorneys general in 20 states warned CV and Walgreens this week against the shipping of abortion pills in their jurisdictions, suggesting they would take legal action.
“We emphasize that it is our responsibility as attorneys general to obey the law and protect the health, safety and welfare of women and unborn children in our states,” the attorneys general said in letters to the country’s two largest drugstore chains Wednesday.
“Part of that responsibility is making sure businesses like yours are fully informed of the law so our citizens are not harmed,” the attorney general warned.
The Food and Drug Administration approved mifepristone as a safe and effective way to terminate pregnancy more than 20 years ago. The FDA says scientific and real-world evidence shows the pill is safer than surgical abortion and childbirth.
The pharmacies announced last month that they are seeking approval from the FDA to dispense the prescription pill in states where it’s legal.
The CVS and Walgreens decision comes after the FDA recently changed its rules to allow retail pharmacies to first-time dispense the pill as long as the prescription is from a certified healthcare provider.
“We are not currently selling mifepristone,” said Walgreens spokesman Fraser Engerman. “We intend to become a certified dispensary under the program, but understand that we may not be able to dispense mifepristone at all locations if we are certified under the program.”
The pill mifepristone has become a central issue in the fight for abortion after the Supreme Court ruled last June that Roe v. Wade, which had protected access to the process as a constitutional right for 50 years.
Since the Supreme Court ruling, a dozen states have banned abortion outright. Other states have restrictions on mifepristone that conflict with FDA regulations for the drug.
The Biden administration issued a legal opinion last month arguing that the Postal Service can ship the pill to states where it is banned if the sender has no intention of breaking the law.
The Justice Department argued that even in states with strict abortion restrictions, there are exceptions where mifepristone would be legal. The DOJ’s statement came in response to a request from the USPS asking how it should deal with an 1873 statute called the Comstock Act, which bans items used to terminate a pregnancy from being shipped in the mail.
But attorneys general dismissed the Justice Department’s opinion as “bizarre” and said they expected courts to uphold their view that mifepristone cannot be mailed in their states.
There are several pending court cases regarding the FDA’s approval of mifepristone. GenBioPro, one of the pill’s makers, has sued to overturn West Virginia’s ban on abortion, arguing that FDA approval of drugs preempts state law.
Anti-abortion advocates have sued the FDA in a Texas federal court to remove mifepristone entirely from the US market. The FDA has called the lawsuit “extraordinary and unprecedented” and warned that a decision in favor of the physicians would compromise their licensing powers.
The letters to CVS and Walgreens were received from the Attorneys General of Missouri, Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and West Virginia.