Walgreens Caves to Political Pressure Over Abortion Pills
One of the nation’s largest retail pharmacy chains has leapt into the controversy around abortion pills. Walgreens has opted not
One of the nation’s largest retail pharmacy chains has leapt into the controversy around abortion pills.
Walgreens has opted not to sell the vital medications even in states where they’re legal, raising questions about the chain’s political motives.
Walgreens Into by Opting Out of Abortion Debate
NEW: @Walgreens confirmed Thursday that it will not dispense abortion pills in several states where they remain legal, in response to threats from Republican state officials and pressure from anti-abortion activists.— Amee Vanderpool (@girlsreallyrule) March 3, 2023
Bye, Walgreens. #BoycottWalgreens https://t.co/d1KKjuKpnz
The country’s second-largest pharmacy chain confirmed late Thursday that they will not be dispensing abortion pills in several states where they’re legal.
The move is out of an abundance of caution as politics and policy shifts by the day.
Purveyors of abortion medications have also been under onslaught of from state officials and anti-abortion activists renewing their opposition to abortion under a SCOTUS they believe has given them more power than ever before.
Politico reports, “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.”
Fraser Engerman, Walgreens’ senior director of external relations, said of the move, “There is currently complexity around this issue in Kansas and elsewhere.”
Walgreens says they have not begun distributing the pills anywhere yet, but are working on certifications to do so in several states.
The Shifting Sands of Abortion Access in the US
People are critizing Walgreens but the story here is that Dobbs has empowered right-wing law enforcement agencies to scare people away from conduct that is legal under their own states' laws. https://t.co/UGmyjlKUcb— Matthew Segal (@segalmr) March 3, 2023
Calls online to boycott Walgreens have been met with frustration.
After all, in a lot of small towns, Walgreens is the only pharmacy available.
Therefore, hanging an activist hat on one’s ability to stop doing business with Walgreens puts reasonable healthcare out of reach for millions of small-town women.
Beyond that, it’s a systemic issue that goes well beyond the pharmacy chain.
When the Supreme Court repealed Roe v Wade, it set up a battlefield across the US where some women in some states would have access to a wide variety of abortion-related healthcare services- and some women would have none.
While it’s inconvenient for many women to have to leave their home state to receive care, the issue goes beyond inconvenient for others.
In some states, politicians are working on making it illegal to leave the state to access abortion, and the cost can be prohibitive as well.
So allowing women to be able to get abortion pills directly from the pharmacy can be a life-changing service that activists are pushing to make available to all.
Walgreens’ decision to be extra cautious in the face of political pressure is a concerning sign of things to come.
Walgreens could change quickly, but for now access to legal healthcare options is made harder by Walgreens’ interpretation of political expediency, and other pharmacies could follow suit.