IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

California will end business with Walgreens over abortion pill stance, Newsom says

The pharmacy chain had come under pressure from 20 Republican state attorneys general, who said it could face legal consequences if it dispensed mifepristone, a common abortion pill.
A Walgreens store.
A Walgreens store.Business Wire

California will sever business ties with Walgreens after the pharmacy giant announced it would not distribute abortion pills in several states where abortion is legal, Gov. Gavin Newsom tweeted Monday.

“California won’t be doing business with @walgreens — or any company that cowers to the extremists and puts women’s lives at risk," Newsom wrote. "We’re done.” 

A spokesperson for Newsom, Brandon Richards, said in a statement that “California is reviewing all relationships between Walgreens and the state.”

Richards declined to clarify what the state’s current business with the pharmacy chain is and how it would cut ties.

Walgreens announced last week that it would not sell abortion pills in several states where abortion remains legal, including Alaska, Florida, Iowa and Montana. It had faced pressure from 20 Republican attorneys general, who told Walgreens in a letter that it could face legal consequences if it sold abortion medication in those states, some where abortion is illegal and some where it remains legal.

Walgreens did not respond to a request for comment about Newsom's statement. It said in statement Monday, the same day as Newsom's, that it "plans to dispense mifepristone in any jurisdiction where it is legally permissible to do so." Last week, Fraser Engerman, Walgreens' senior director of external relations, said the chain was not dispensing mifepristone anywhere in the country. Engerman added that Walgreens was seeking FDA certification to sell mifepristone but was navigating a "complex and in-flux area of the law."

Newsom, a Democrat, has positioned himself as a crusader for abortion rights. Last month, he led an alliance for Democratic governors to share model legislation and potential executive orders about safeguarding abortion access.

Medication abortion has become a new battleground for abortion rights, with pharmacies often caught in the crossfire. It accounted for more than half of all U.S. abortions in 2020, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that advocates for abortion access. Mifepristone is usually the first drug used in a two-drug medication abortion regimen.

“I think you’ll see real efforts to target it, to try to take it off the markets, to ban it in states, as well as efforts to make it more accessible," Rachel Rebouché, the dean of the Temple University Law School and an expert in reproductive health law, said about abortion pills. "So I think this is what will occupy legislators’ and advocates’ attention in the coming years.”