GOP attorneys general warn CVS and Walgreens against mailing abortion pills to their states
Mifepristone (Mifeprex) and misoprostol, two drugs used in medical abortion, are seen at a female reproductive clinic that provides legal medical abortion services in Santa Teresa, New Mexico, on June 17, 2022.
Robin Beck | AFP | Getty Images
Republican attorneys general in 20 states warned CVS and walgreens this week against the distribution of abortion pills in their jurisdiction, indicating that they will take legal action.
“We emphasize that it is our responsibility as state attorneys general to uphold the law and protect the health, safety, and welfare of women and unborn children in our states,” the attorneys general said. said in letters to the country’s two largest pharmacy chains on Wednesday.
“Part of that responsibility includes making sure companies like yours are fully informed about the law so our citizens don’t get hurt,” the attorney general warned.
The Food and Drug Administration approved mifepristone over 20 years ago as a safe and effective way to terminate an early pregnancy. The FDA claims scientific and real-world evidence demonstrates that the pill is safer than surgical abortion and childbirth.
Last month, pharmacies said they were applying for FDA certification to dispense prescription pills in states where it is legal.
The decision by CVS and Walgreens comes after the FDA recently changed its rules to allow retail pharmacies to dispense pills for the first time if the prescription comes from a certified healthcare provider.
“We are not dispensing mifepristone at this time,” said Walgreens spokesman Fraser Engerman. “We intend to become a certified pharmacy under the program, however we fully understand that we may not be able to dispense mifepristone in all locations if we are certified under the program.”
The mifepristone pill has become the center of attention in the abortion battle since the Supreme Court’s decision last June to strike down Roe v. Wade, which defended access to the procedure as a constitutional right for 50 years.
A dozen states have virtually banned abortion since the Supreme Court ruling. Other states have restrictions on mifepristone that are against FDA regulations for the drug.
The Biden administration last month released a legal opinion arguing that the Postal Service could mail the pills to states where they are banned as long as the sender does not intend to break the law.
The Justice Department argued that even in states with severe restrictions on abortion, there are exceptions when mifepristone is allowed. The Justice Department’s opinion was obtained in response to a USPS inquiry asking how it should comply with an 1873 law called the Comstock Act, which prohibits mailing anything used to terminate a pregnancy.
But attorneys general dismissed the Justice Department’s view as “weird” and said they expect the courts to uphold their view that mifepristone cannot be mailed in their states.
There are several pending court cases regarding FDA approval of mifepristone. GenBioPro, one of the pill makers, has filed a lawsuit to overturn West Virginia’s abortion ban, arguing that FDA drug approval takes precedence over state law.
Anti-abortion doctors have filed a lawsuit against the FDA in Texas federal court demanding that mifepristone be completely removed from the US market. The FDA called the lawsuit “extraordinary and unprecedented” and warned that a ruling in favor of physicians would undermine its approval authority.
Letters to CVS and Walgreens were signed by 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.