Senate Democrats press pharmacies to ensure access to abortion drug

Boxes of the drug mifepristone sit on a shelf at the West Alabama Women’s Center in Tuscaloosa, Ala., on March 16, 2022. (AP Photo/Allen G. Breed)

A group of Democratic senators sent letters to seven pharmacies on Monday to urge them to ensure customers have access to an abortion drug as some states seek restrictions on the pill. 

Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) in a Tuesday release said she and Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) led 16 other Democrats in sending the letters to seven of the largest pharmacies in the country — Walgreens, Albertsons, Costco, Kroger, Walmart, CVS and Rite Aid.

The letter asks for details about their plans and policies toward providing mifepristone, which can allow people to end a pregnancy themselves through 10 weeks. 

The release notes that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) lifted certain requirements for individuals to have access to mifepristone in January, and Walgreens, CVS and Rite Aid announced after that they would seek certification for providing the pill when they are legally allowed. 

The release said Albertsons, Cosco, Kroger and Walmart have not announced any plans. 

But it states that Walgreens seemed to “cave” to “threats” from Republican attorneys general who sent letters to the company to warn it against providing the pill, arguing that doing so would violate state laws restricting abortion. 

Walgreens said earlier this month that it would not provide mifepristone in several states, including some without strict abortion restrictions, following the warning of legal action from the attorneys general. 

The senators said that Walgreens has done a “disservice” in adding to confusion about abortion access and insisted on clarification about the company’s plans. 

“While we are well aware of threatening letters you received with regard to the distribution of mifepristone in certain states, the response to those pressures was unacceptable and appeared to yield to these threats—ignoring the critical need to ensure patients can get this essential health care wherever possible,” they said. 

The senators’ letters to the four pharmacies that have not yet announced plans to distribute mifepristone called on them to establish plans to grant their customers access. 

They said in their letters to CVS and Rite Aid that they are pleased with the pharmacies’ actions to protect access to abortion medication and advised them to communicate clearly with customers to avoid confusion. 

The release states that access to abortion medication is “vital” for patients in the aftermath of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade in June. 

More than half of all abortions in the country are done through a pill, according to The Guttmacher Institute, which conducts research on sexual and reproductive health. 

More than a dozen states have taken action to ban or severely restrict abortion through trigger bans or legislation since Roe was overturned. 

The FDA is currently battling a lawsuit from anti-abortion groups trying to block the agency’s approval of mifepristone.

Tags Abortion medication abortion pill Albertsons Costco CVS Debbie Stabenow Debbie Stabenow fda Food and Drug Administration Kroger mifepristone Patty Murray Patty Murray pharmacies Rite Aid Walgreens Walmart

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