Walgreens on Friday said it will not distribute abortion medication in 20 states, bowing to pressure from anti-abortion lawmakers and lawsuits targeting the legality of medication abortion.
The company said it will not dispense mifepristone, the first of two drugs in the medication abortion process, in 20 states following a February 1 letter from GOP attorneys general in those states.
Retail pharmacies have been caught in the middle of abortion battles. Companies are loath to antagonize lawmakers in states where they may face politically motivated reprisals. GOP leaders have recently targeted businesses ranging from Disney to investment funds.
“We intend to be a certified pharmacy and will distribute Mifepristone only in those jurisdictions where it is legal and operationally feasible,” the company said in a statement.
The US Food and Drug Administration had previously said that pharmacies that become certified to dispense mifepristone can do so directly to someone who has a prescription from a certified prescriber.
A spokesperson for Rite Aid said the pharmacy chain is monitoring developments.
“Rite Aid is monitoring the latest federal, state, legal and regulatory developments regarding mifepristone dispensing and we will continue to evaluate the Company’s ability to dispense mifepristone in accordance with those developments,” spokesperson Catherine Carter told CNN in a statement.
Medication abortion, which now accounts for a majority abortions obtained in the United States, has become a flashpoint in the fallout from the Supreme Court’s decision last year overturning Roe v. Wade.
A federal judge in Texas is expected to rule any day on a lawsuit seeking to block the use of medication abortion nationwide, in the biggest abortion-related case since the Supreme Court overturned Roe.
The lawsuit, filed in November by anti-abortion advocates against the FDA, targets the agency’s two-decade-old approval of mifepristone.
Abortion rights advocates have sounded the alarm on the case, stressing that a ruling in favor of the plaintiffs would affect every corner of the country since the lawsuit is targeting a federal agency.
“If FDA approval of mifepristone is revoked, 64.5 million women of reproductive age in the US would lose access to medication abortion care, an exponential increase in harm overnight,” NARAL said in a statement in February, pointing to internal research.
CNN has also reached out to CVS, Kroger and Walmart about their future plans for distributing mifepristone. The retailers did not immediately respond to the requests for comment.