MONDAY, March 6, 2023 (HealthDay News) -- After receiving a warning letter from Republican attorneys general in 20 states, Walgreens said it does not plan to distribute abortion pills in those states -- even in the ones where abortion is still legal. The letter warned the company it could face legal consequences if it sold the abortion medication in their states.
The company responded to each attorney general, telling them it would not sell abortion pills by mail or in stores in those states, NBC News reported.
"This is a very complex and in-flux area of the law, and we are taking that into account as we seek certification to dispense mifepristone," Fraser Engerman, Walgreens senior director of external relations, told NBC News. "We are not dispensing mifepristone at this time. We intend to become a certified pharmacy under the program; however, we will only dispense in those jurisdictions where it is legal to do if we are certified."
Many other pharmacies were also sent letters but did not respond immediately to a request for comment. Those were Albertsons, Costco, CVS, Kroger, Rite Aid, and Walmart. The attorneys general who sent the letter were in states where abortion is illegal, including Kentucky, Mississippi, South Dakota, Texas, and West Virginia, as well as states where abortion is still legal, such as Alaska, Florida, Iowa, and Montana, NBC News reported.
"We emphasize that it is our responsibility as State Attorneys General to uphold the law and protect the health, safety, and well-being of women and unborn children in our states," the letter said. Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey said on Facebook that he wants to ensure "that pharmacies throughout the nation aren't subverting state and federal statute to ship abortion pills in the mail," according to NBC News.
More than half of U.S. abortions in 2020 were completed by medication instead of surgery, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that advocates for abortion access. While the abortion pills are legal in 37 states, in 15 of those states, they must be prescribed by a doctor rather than other health workers, NBC News reported.