Walgreens Decides Against Distributing Abortion Drug, Democrats Threaten ‘Consequences’

Republican attorneys general have stirred up Democratic anger through a recent effort to convince Walgreens to halt the distribution of mifepristone, an abortion-inducing drug, in states that regulate abortion procedures in the aftermath of last year’s reversal of Roe v. Wade. Last month, nearly two dozen Republican attorneys general threatened Walgreens with legal action if the company distributed the drug in their states.

In response, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) promised that there would be “consequences” if Walgreens refused to distribute the drug in New York. Hochul emphasized that pharmacies are the “new battleground ever since women’s rights were stripped in the overturning of Roe v. Wade” and that abortion rights will be protected in New York.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) also announced on Monday that his state government would stop doing business with Walgreens due to the decision to stop distributing mifepristone.

Other states, including Alabama, Missouri, Alaska, Florida, and Georgia, have also received confirmation that Walgreens will not offer the drug in their jurisdictions.

The decision by Walgreens and the Democratic backlash appears to have affected the company’s stock. The company’s stock trades on the Nasdaq exchange under the symbol WBA and closed Friday afternoon at $33.26 per share, off around 7.75% for the week.

Joe Biden’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced in January that pharmacies would be permitted to dispense mifepristone directly to patients without requiring them to go to a medical clinic. However, the drug does not treat ectopic pregnancies. Women with undiagnosed ectopic pregnancies are at risk of hemorrhaging and death, according to the pro-life Charlotte Lozier Institute.

GenBioPro, the company that manufactures mifepristone, has filed a federal lawsuit against states that regulate or ban chemical abortions. The company argued that the FDA ruling should take priority over state laws under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution.

Meanwhile, the decision by Walgreens to halt the distribution of mifepristone has not gone unnoticed by pro-life groups. Family Research Council (FRC) and 13 other pro-life groups sent a letter to Walgreens referencing the potential legal consequences of offering the drug. The groups noted that women who take the drug could be severely injured or killed, further stating that chemical abortion prescriptions may harm the company’s public image.

Walgreens has yet to distribute Mifepristone pills in the U.S. but is seeking certification in select states. In addition, the company has said that it plans to dispense the medication in any state where it is legally allowed once it receives certification from the FDA.

While Walgreens cannot afford to ignore concerns from Republican states, the decision to halt distribution of the drug could have a significant financial impact on the company in populous blue states like California and New York. So, for now, Walgreens is in a complicated legal and public relations position.