Politico reports that Walgreens "confirmed Thursday that it will not dispense abortion pills in several states where they remain legal — acting out of an abundance of caution amid a shifting policy landscape, threats from state officials and pressure from anti-abortion activists.
"Nearly two dozen Republican state attorneys general wrote to Walgreens in February, threatening legal action if the company began distributing the drugs, which have become the nation’s most popular method for ending a pregnancy.
"The company told Politico that it has since responded to all the officials, assuring them that they will not dispense abortion pills either by mail or at their brick-and-mortar locations in those states. The list includes several states where abortion in general, and the medications specifically, remain legal — including Alaska, Iowa, Kansas and Montana. For example, Kansas’ law that patients only obtain the pills directly from a physician is blocked in court … The company stressed that it is not yet distributing the pills anywhere in the country, but is working to obtain certification to do so in some states, though declined to say which."
Politico goes on to point out that Walgreens' decision "is the latest to demonstrate how widely abortion access can vary state to state in a post-Roe America even in places where there are no bans in effect — as elected officials tussle with the federal government, activists and corporations to block the availability of services.
"E. Michael Murphy, the adviser for state government affairs for the American Pharmacists Association, said his members are struggling to navigate 'blatant contradictions between state and federal law that make it very challenging to identify what is legal and what is not legal'."
- KC's View:
As noted in a story earlier this week, Walgreens is just one of a number of major retailers - the others include Costco, Walmart, Kroger, CVS, and Rite Aid - that were put on notice by state Attorneys General not to accept a changed FDA rule that would allow them to sell mifepristone by mail, and that they should expect legal action if they do.
I pointed out then that these companies were being put in a potentially untenable position, being forced to either knuckle under to state legal threats or adhere to what the federal government says is legal. It is the very definition of being between a rock and a hard place.
Walgreens is doing what it has to do. But if there are customers out there in states where the pill is legal, and yet somehow they are being denied access, I suspect they may vote not just in the polling booth, but also with their wallets.
One other point. Companies like CVS, Walgreens and Walmart - plus Amazon - all are making moves to become more deeply embedded in the health care system as care providers, not just a place to pick up prescriptions. This whole situation, as they are placed in the crossfire of a culture war, may not help them in those ambitions.