Newsom Punishes Walgreens for Refusing to Illegally Sell Abortion Drugs

By Mary Margaret Olohan Published on March 10, 2023

California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, announced Wednesday that California is pulling back from renewing its multimillion-dollar contract with Walgreens over the company’s decision not to sell abortion drugs in jurisdictions where state attorneys general have said it would be illegal.

After the Food and Drug Administration changed regulations to permit women to obtain abortion drugs without first meeting with a physician in person, Walgreens and CVS announced that they would each seek certification in order to be able to sell the first of the two-drug abortion process: mifepristone.

Walgreens confirmed in early March that it would not sell abortion pills in over 20 states due to Republican attorneys general who have threatened to take legal action against it. The news prompted praise from Republicans like former Vice President Mike Pence, who urged pro-lifers to “stay in the fight” and keep up their efforts against “pill mills and mail-order abortions.”

“I commend Walgreens for yielding to the rule of law,” Pence said at a Students for Life gala in Naples, Florida. “Americans don’t want their pharmacies to become abortion facilities.”

“When Corporate America does something right, we ought to let them know they have our support,” Robert E. Moffit, senior research fellow at The Heritage Foundation’s Center for Health and Welfare Policy, told The Daily Signal. (The Daily Signal is the news outlet of The Heritage Foundation.) “Sometimes, it’s lonely out there, when you are besieged by the ‘Beautiful People’ and their allies in the wokey media.”

But Newsom reacted by calling for a review of all the contracts between California and Walgreens.

“California will not stand by as corporations cave to extremists and cut off critical access to reproductive care and freedom,” Newsom said in a statement Wednesday. “California is on track to be the fourth-largest economy in the world and we will leverage our market power to defend the right to choose.”

Walgreens had received about $54 million from the state of California under its contract with the California Department of General Services, according to a press release from the governor’s office. That contract allows the state to “procure specialty pharmacy prescription drugs, primarily used by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) and its correctional health care system,” according to the release.

Walgreens did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Daily Signal. Walgreens representative Fraser Engerman told The Associated Press, however, that Walgreens is “deeply disappointed by the decision by the state of California not to renew our longstanding contract due to false and misleading information.”

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“Walgreens is facing the same circumstances as all retail pharmacies, and no other pharmacies have said that they would approach this situation differently, so it’s unclear where this contract would not be moved,” Engerman said. “Our position has always been that, once we are certified by the FDA, Walgreens plans to dispense Mifepristone in any jurisdiction where it is legally permissible to do so, including the state of California.”

In a Monday release, the company emphasized that it plans to dispense the abortion drug, mifepristone, “in any jurisdiction where it is legally permissible to do so.”

“Once we are certified by the FDA, we will dispense this medication consistent with federal and state laws,” the company statement said. “Providing legally approved medications to patients is what pharmacies do, and is rooted in our commitment to the communities in which we operate.”

Advocates from Susan B. Anthony List Pro-Life America pushed Walgreens to recognize that abortion drugs are “unsafe,” citing a Knights of Columbus poll showing that 63% of Americans oppose sending abortion drugs by mail.

“America’s pharmacies must not ignore the data that show mail-order abortion drugs are unsafe. They should not be in the business of selling abortion or sending deadly drugs through the mail,” said Katie Glenn, Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America’s state policy director. “A woman who has a chemical abortion is at 53% greater risk of an ER visit for abortion complications, including severe bleeding, need for surgery, and even death.”

“We urge all concerned Americans to keep advocating against illegal policies that harm women and children and to vote with their feet and wallets, and other pharmacies to make their policies clear now,” she added.

 

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