New York Gov. Kathy Hochul sent a letter Thursday to Walgreens, CVS and Rite Aid to pressure the pharmacy chains to sell abortion drugs even in states where aborting unborn babies is illegal.
Joined by state Attorney General Tish James, Hochul asked the pharmacy chains to confirm that they do plan to sell abortion drugs at least in New York, KHN reports.
“At a time when reproductive rights are under attack elsewhere, we cannot let them be chipped away here in New York,” the Democrat leaders wrote.
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In January, pro-life advocates began boycotting Walgreens, CVS and, later, RiteAid after they announced plans to begin selling abortion drugs that are used to kill unborn babies up to about 10 weeks of pregnancy. Their decisions came after the Biden administration dropped safety regulations for the dangerous abortion drug mifepristone, which has been linked to the deaths of millions of babies and dozens of women. Previously, mifepristone only could be dispensed by FDA-approved abortion facilities, medical offices and hospitals under the direct supervision of a licensed physician.
In the letter, Hochul claimed the in-person requirement was “medically unnecessary” for the abortion drug, and she felt “heartened” by announcements that the pharmacies plan to begin selling them.
This week, Hochul and other Democrat governors put renewed pressure on the pharmacies to sell abortion drugs after Walgreens announced that it will abide by state laws that restrict or prohibit abortion drugs. The news angered California Gov. Gavin Newsom so much that he punished the company by ending its $54 million state contract.
In a follow-up statement on Monday however, Walgreens said it planned to dispense mifepristone in any jurisdiction where it was legally permissible to do so. When asked about the New York officials’ letter, Walgreens directed Reuters to Monday’s statement.
Rite Aid and CVS did not immediately respond to Reuters’ requests for comment.
Hochul’s letter also hints that the companies should violate state pro-life laws and sell the abortion drugs in every state anyway.
“We urge you … to commit to making this critical medication available as widely as possible based on a fair and unbiased interpretation of state and federal law,” the letter states.
But Republican state attorneys general have said Democrats are the ones misinterpreting state and federal laws that clearly prohibit mailing abortion drugs or selling them without the direct supervision of a medical doctor.
In February, 20 Republican state attorneys general wrote to the companies, warning that selling abortion drugs through the mail is “unsafe and illegal” and the companies could face lawsuits.
Kansas Attorney General Kris Kobach said federal law clearly prohibits mail-order abortion drugs and devices, and “no self-respecting lawyer would read the law in such a way that is clearly inconsistent with its plain meaning.”
“A future U.S. Attorney General will almost certainly reject the Biden administration’s results-oriented, strained reading. And consequences for accepting the Biden administration’s reading could come far sooner,” Kobach and other attorneys general told Walgreens and CVS.
They also expressed concerns about the well-being of women and children in their states, noting the risk of injury and death as well as coerced and forced abortions.
The drug mifepristone, typically used with a second drug, misoprostol, now is used for more than half of all abortions in the U.S., killing nearly half a million unborn babies annually, according to the Guttmacher Institute.
The FDA has linked mifepristone to at least 28 women’s deaths and 4,000 serious complications between 2000 and 2018. However, under President Barack Obama, the FDA stopped requiring that non-fatal complications from mifepristone be reported. So the numbers almost certainly are much higher.
Right now, a federal judge is considering a lawsuit from four medical groups that challenges the FDA approval of mifepristone as an abortion drug. The medical organizations accused the agency of ignoring evidence of safety problems and failing to properly study the risks.
Studies indicate the risks are more common than what abortion activists often claim, with as many as one in 17 women requiring hospital treatment.