New York Presses Pharmacies on Abortion Pills, Says to Ignore Warnings from GOP AGs

abortion advocate Kathy Hochul
ELISA WELLS/PLAN C/AFP via Getty Images, Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) and state Attorney General Leticia James wrote a letter to several retail pharmacy chains on Thursday, asking their chief executive officers to “commit” to dispensing abortion pills in-store and by mail.

The pro-abortion Democrats asked the CEOs of Walgreens, Rite Aid, and CVS Health to respond to their letter in ten days, answering whether the pharmacy chains will commit to dispensing mifepristone, the first drug used in a two-drug medication abortion regimen, in-store and via mail with a doctor’s prescription in the State of New York. They also urged the chains to ignore legal threats from Republican attorneys general who do not want pharmacies dispensing abortion pills in their states. The letter claims:

Unfortunately, building on a national pressure campaign by anti-choice forces, 20 Attorneys General have called on the pharmacies not to distribute this essential medication within their states, based on a restrictive interpretation of the law and misrepresentation of the facts. We urge you not to allow these tactics to intimidate you, and 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 continues:

Even as access to this medication is under threat elsewhere for political reasons, we remind you that New York’s law is simple. Abortion is legal and protected as a fundamental right under state law, and there are no legal barriers to dispensing mifepristone in New York pharmacies. New Yorkers urgently need their health care providers to clearly stand up for access to reproductive health care. As CEOs of corporations that operate multiple pharmacies in New York, you are entrusted with making decisions that could greatly impact the availability of this essential medication statewide.

Hochul and James additionally called pro-life lawmakers and activists “anti-abortion extremists” and bragged about the work they have done to incentivize ending the lives of unborn children in their states. 

“At a time when reproductive rights are under attack elsewhere, we cannot let them be chipped away here in New York,” they wrote. 

The letter comes after the FDA made a regulatory change in early January allowing retail pharmacies to offer mifepristone  in-store and by mail order, although patients will still need a prescription from a certified health care provider. After the rule change, spokespeople from Walgreens and CVS confirmed the chains would offer mifepristone at locations where it not against state law, and Rite Aid followed closely behind. 

At the same time, the FDA officially removed the in-person requirement from its regulatory rule book for mifepristone, meaning women will continue to be able to obtain a prescription for the abortion pill via telemedicine. The FDA made the move the same day President Joe Biden’s Department of Justice (DOJ) cleared the U.S. Postal Service to deliver abortion drugs to states with abortion restrictions and bans, offering “limited assurances that a federal law addressing the issue won’t be used to prosecute people criminally over such mailings,” according to Politico

Walgreens recently agreed not to dispense mifepristone in 21 conservative-led states after Republican attorneys general warned against doing so in a letter last month. The attorneys general also wrote to CVS, Albertsons, Rite Aid, Costco, Walmart, and Kroger, warning them not to dispense abortion pills. The attorneys general argued that the Biden administration is misconstruing laws around mailing and dispensing abortion pills and said they would consider pursing legal action if the chains dispensed abortion pills in their states. 

Hochul’s letter notably comes after California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) decided not to renew a $54 million contract with Walgreens over the company’s decision not to dispense abortion pills in those conservative-led states.


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