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Governor Newsom says California is ‘finished’ with Walgreens buckling in abortion drug war

Governor Gavin Newsom said on Monday that California would stop doing business with Walgreens after the giant pharmacy chain announced it would no longer dispense abortion pills in 20 states.

“California will not do business with Walgreens or any other company that gives in to extremism and endangers the lives of women,” Newsom said on Twitter Monday at the 3rd March for Life in the state capital. Anti-abortion activists rallied. “It’s over.”

It’s unclear what the governor’s remarks mean for Californians who rely on a nationwide chain of pharmacies based in Illinois. Newsom’s office could not answer whether residents who receive health care through state programs such as Medi-Cal and Covered California will be forced to go to other pharmacies to take advantage of their benefits.

“California is reviewing all relationships between Walgreens and the state,” said Brandon Richards, Newsom’s deputy communications officer. “We will not pursue deals with companies that give in to right-wing bullies who promote extremist agendas, or that prioritize politics over the health of women and girls.”

“We are working with the governor’s office to determine the potential impact of this announcement,” said James Scalary, a spokesperson for Covered California, which manages the Affordable Care Act plan in the state. We are working on it,” he said.

California Family Council president Jonathan Keller, one of the groups marching in Sacramento on Monday, said the governor’s move would only hurt California residents.

“It’s absolutely amazing that the governor of California would require companies to break the laws of other states as a cost of doing business in California,” Keller said. “This is a very ominous threat. Is he threatening to withhold that choice from medical patients in order to fulfill prescriptions? Can’t state employees use Walgreens as a pharmacy? He is actually punishing Californians.”

At issue is a drug called mifepristone, which is used to induce early abortion.of The Food and Drug Administration first approved its use in 2000 In 2016 it was extended to 10 weeks. The agency says the drug is “safe when used as directed” and was approved after a “thorough and comprehensive review of the scientific evidence.” Since then, 28 patient deaths related to mifepristone have been reported.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that advocates for abortion rights, such “medicinal abortions” will surpass surgical procedures for the first time in 2020 and now account for more than half of all abortions in the United States.

The FDA has restricted access to pills outside of clinics for the past 20 years due to safety concerns, but began relaxing those rules during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the constitutional right to abortion last year in his Roe v. Wade decision of 1973, abortion rights advocates have criticized abortion as a means of maintaining easy access to the process. I’ve been looking at drugs.

In early January, the FDA further expanded the rule to allow retail pharmacies to dispense pills after completing the certification process. This makes it available not only in pharmacies, but also online and by mail.

Walgreens and CVS have begun the certification process. but, Attorneys General of 20 States, February 1 A signed letter to both pharmacies threatening legal action if they say it’s “unsafe and illegal” to distribute abortion pills by mail.

Walgreens last week expanded to Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and West Virginia. Mifepristone is legal in some of these states.

In response to Newsom’s comments, Walgreens said it has an obligation to comply with various state laws. No reason was given for including states where the drug is legal.

The exterior of a Walgreens store in Mill Valley, California on January 6, 2022. Governor Gavin Newsom said on Monday that California will stop doing business with Walgreens. After the pharmacy announced that he would not dispense abortion pills in 20 states. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

“From the beginning, Walgreens has made clear our intention to be a licensed pharmacy that sells mifepristone wherever legally possible,” Walgreens said in a statement Monday.

CVS has not indicated a change in plans, but did not respond to questions on Monday after Newsom’s statement. Rite Aid didn’t even respond to questions about it.

Abortion rights are popular in California, and Newsom has been an aggressive proponent, last year pushing Proposition 1, a constitutional amendment ballot measure that would prohibit the state from interfering with an individual’s abortion rights. Passed by two-thirds vote.

Jennifer Wonnacott, spokesperson for Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, praised Newsom for calling Walgreens.

“Like others, I was disappointed to learn Walgreens’ response to a request by a Republican Attorney General against abortion,” Wannacott said. Thank you to Governor Newsom for continuing to oppose the anti-abortion movement, which has outright banned abortion and won’t stop until it’s criminalized.”

Susan Swift, vice president of legal affairs for the Right to Life League, said making abortion pills available outside clinics puts mothers at greater risk.

“This is a complete disregard for women’s health,” Swift said.

https://www.mercurynews.com/2023/03/06/gov-newsom-says-california-done-with-walgreens-for-buckling-in-abortion-pill-fight/ Governor Newsom says California is ‘finished’ with Walgreens buckling in abortion drug war

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