Walgreens Will Comply With Laws Against Distributing Abortion Pills

Walgreens has recently confirmed that it will not dispense abortion pills in several states, even in some where abortion is legal. The decision by America’s second-largest pharmacy chain reportedly was made out of caution amidst the shifting policy landscape and advocacy by pro-life activists. The abortion pills have become the nation’s most popular method for ending a pregnancy.

The U.S. Supreme Court reversed the 1973 abortion case Roe v. Wade last June in Dobbs v. Jackson, effectively returning the power to regulate or ban abortions to each state acting individually.

Walgreens was also responding to a letter from 20 state attorneys general threatening legal action if the company began distributing the drugs illegally in their jurisdictions. The decision demonstrates how widely abortion policy can vary across states after the end of Roe. It will apply in many places where there are no bans currently in effect, as pro-life elected officials grapple with the federal government, activists and corporations to regulate the killing of unborn babies.

Kansas Attorney General Kris Kobach called Walgreens’ decision a “significant victory for the pro-life cause and for women’s health,” adding that “dispensing these pills without a supervising physician present would expose women to complications and potentially to coercion as well.”

Kobach says, “when abortion drugs are mailed or consumed outside a regulated medical facility, the risk of coercion is much higher—indeed, guaranteed—because there is no oversight.”

Several Republican state attorneys general signed the letter reminding Walgreens that sending abortion drugs like mifepristone using the postal service is still expressly prohibited by federal law. Many state laws similarly prohibit the practice.

Abortion industry advocates argue that the decision could limit access to abortion for those living in rural areas. Elizabeth Nash, a state policy expert with the abortionist think-tank Guttmacher Institute, says that “when we’re thinking about states that have a lot of their population in rural areas, it’s much more likely that a pharmacy is nearby than a provider’s office, so these pharmacies play an outsized role in patient health and access to health care.”

The Biden White House has predictably responded with outrage at the decision by Walgreens, with press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre reading from a prepared statement that it is “unacceptable and dangerous.”

The decision by Walgreens is not yet final, as the company is working to obtain certification to dispense abortion drugs in certain states.