Newsom: California Won't Be Doing Business With Walgreens Over Abortion Pills

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California "won't be doing business with Walgreens" after the company said it will ban selling abortion pills by mail in 20 states, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Monday on Twitter.

Newsom in a tweet added the state will not be doing business with "any company that cowers to the extremists and puts women's lives at risk. We're done."

Walgreens' announcement was made Thursday after attorneys generals in 20 states last month warned Walgreens and CVS that they could face legal consequences if they sell abortion pills by mail in those states.

It was not immediately clear what Newsom's announcement means for Walgreens, or if any other Democratic-led states would follow suit.

Walgreens spokesperson Fraser Engerman confirmed last week the company sent a response to each of the attorneys general saying that it will not dispense mifepristone in their states.

Nineteen U.S. states have imposed restrictions on abortion pills, but there’s a court battle over whether they have the power to do so in defiance of U.S. Food and Drug Administration policy. A physician and a company that makes the pill mifepristone filed separate lawsuits earlier this year seeking to strike down bans in North Carolina and West Virginia.

The FDA for more than 20 years limited dispensing of the drug to a subset of specialty offices and clinics because of safety concerns. But it eased restrictions since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic by eliminating the in-person requirement for the pill and allowing brick-and-mortar pharmacies to dispense it. At least one lawsuit filed by abortion opponents argues that the FDA has overstepped its authority in approving the abortion drugs.

Engerman said the company is not currently dispensing mifepristone, although it is working to become eligible through an FDA-mandated certification process. That process requires pharmacies to meet specific standards in shipping, tracking and confidentially storing drug prescribing records.

He said the company “will dispense only in those jurisdictions where it is legal to do so if we are certified.”

Cal State East Bay history and communication professor Nolan Higdon said the governor's move may also be a reflection of his political aspirations.

“I think it's a pretty bold move to target one company over one decision it's doing in different states,” he said, “Given that he is the governor of California and he is focusing on what they're doing outside of the state, I think again it's a clear indication that he is looking for a 2024 presidential run.”

Some Bay Area residents didn't agree with the governor's actions.

“I don’t think it's right. I don't think he should intervene in people’s personal and medical affairs or try to influence a business,” said Fran of Campbell.

“The government should let Walgreens do what they want to do’,” said Vanessa Montoya of Campbell.

Newsom could potentially impact the relationship Medical and Covered California have with Walgreens.

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