Walgreens, the nation’s second-largest pharmacy, has decided to not dispense the abortion pill mifepristone in several states where Republicans have considered banning the abortafacient.
Mifepristone, when used in combination with another drug called misoprostol, has been approved for abortion within the first 10 weeks of pregnancy.
Politicoreports, “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 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.
“There is currently complexity around this issue in Kansas and elsewhere,” said Fraser Engerman, Walgreens’ senior director of external relations.
The company stressed that it is not yet distributing the pills anywhere in the country, but is working to obtain certification to do so in some states, though declined to say which.
“The decision by Walgreens comes as a federal judge in Texas is set to rule on a lawsuit that seeks to restrict access to mifepristone, which is one of the two drugs typically used to induce a medicated abortion.
More than half of all abortions in the U.S. use mifepristone.
A lawsuit filed by the Alliance for Hippocratic medicine, an anti-abortion organization, seeks to reverse the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the drug and remove it from the market. The lawsuit alleges there have not been sufficient studies into the safety of mifepristone.
Mifepristone can be ordered online with a prescription, even in states where surgical abortions are restricted. The drug is also used to treat miscarriages,” according to CBS News.
The lawsuit over mail-order abortions has caused at least one Democrat to call for companies to take a radical step and ignore the law.
“Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden gave a blistering speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate Thursday morning, calling on the Food and Drug Administration to ignore an expected federal court ruling that could halt access to abortion pills,” wrote Oregon Public Broadcasting.
The senator said that “the FDA should go on just as it has for the last 23 years since it first approved mifepristone. The FDA needs to keep this medication on the market without interruption regardless of what the ruling says. Doctors and pharmacies should go about their jobs like nothing has changed.”
Earlier in the year, CVS, like Walgreens, stated they plan to seek certification to sell the mifepristone, The New York Timesreported. “Patients will still need a prescription from a certified health care provider, but the new federal action could significantly expand access to medication abortion because it allows any pharmacy that agrees to accept those prescriptions and abide by certain other criteria to dispense the pills in its stores and by mail order.”