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    Sunday, June 16, 2024

    Walgreens bows to pressure

    When the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced earlier this year that it would allow drugstore chains to sell mifepristone, the highly regulated first drug taken in a two-drug regimen for medication abortion, Walgreens and other pharmacy chains eagerly stepped up and said they would go through the required certification process.

    But after attorneys general in 20 Republican-led states wrote an ominous letter to Walgreens’ executive vice president reminding her of abortion laws and warning — questionably — that it was illegal to mail abortion pills in the U.S., the company told several news outlets that it would not sell in those states.

    Walgreens insisted in statements in recent days that once it was certified, it would sell the abortion pills in states where it was legal.

    But the retailer’s statements to the general public conflict with what it has told those conservative states. Abortion — including medication abortion — is legal in half of the 21 states that wrote to Walgreens and later received assurances the retailer would not sell in those states. And most of those states where it’s legal allow people to take abortion medication outside of a provider’s office — which means Walgreens can sell in those states. In the rest of those states abortion is banned with limited exceptions or, in one case, unavailable because there is no abortion clinic.

    The one thing that all the 21 states have in common are elected officials hostile to abortion rights.

    It would be understandable if Walgreens officials put out a statement saying their hands were tied in the 10 states where abortion is banned. But instead the pharmacy chain caved to political pressure, and that is despicable.

    In a post-Roe era when states are trying to restrict abortion, including medication abortion, which is more easily available than a surgical abortion, it’s outrageous for a drugstore chain to be in any way connected to thwarting access. Abortion care is healthcare, and that should be Walgreens’ primary concern.

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