Why Did Walgreens Just Blacklist 21 States?

Walgreens, a leading drug store chain, recently announced that it would not be mailing abortion pills to patients in response to pressure from Attorneys General in several US states. This decision came after the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, a landmark case that legalized abortion nationwide.

Attorneys General from 20 states wrote a letter to Walgreens executives, urging them not to mail abortion pills to patients, and threatened legal action if the company did not comply. In response to this major legal pressure, Walgreens announced it would abide by the request.

In a letter addressed to Kansas Attorney General Kris Kobach on February 17th, Danielle Gray, the executive vice president of Walgreens Boots Alliance, stated that the company is not presently fulfilling prescriptions for mifepristone. This drug induces early pregnancy abortions, at any of its locations. The letter further indicated that Walgreens has no intention of dispensing the drug in Kansas, even via mail, in the future.

Despite its decision not to mail or dispense abortion pills in the states that sent the original letter, Walgreens highlighted that it intends to seek certification from the FDA to distribute the drug soon and is expected to dispatch it to other states. While the drug is legally permissible in several states, including Alaska, Kansas, Iowa, and Montana, the company will not distribute it to patients in those regions.

According to Fraser Engerman, a spokesperson for Walgreens, the legal ground regarding the distribution of abortion pills is “very complex and in flux,” and the company will have to walk a careful line to avoid lawsuits.

This decision by Walgreens has been met with criticism from some quarters. White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre recently stated that “elected officials targeting pharmacies…is dangerous and just unacceptable.” However, pro-life states and groups have been specifically targeting medication to limit women’s access to abortions, as medication accounts for over 50% of all abortions in recent years, according to the Guttmacher Institute.