Democrats are pushing Walmart, Costco and Kroger in the direction of mifepristone
Pictured here are boxes of mifepristone tablets on display at a family planning clinic on April 13, 2023 in Rockville, Maryland.
Anna Moneymaker | Getty Images
The Democrats in the House of Representatives called for it on Thursday walmart, Costco, HookSafeway and Health Mart publicly commit to selling the prescription abortion pill mifepristone in their retail pharmacies.
Pending lawsuits have jeopardized the approval of mifepristone in the US. It is currently the most common method of abortion in the country.
The five companies have remained silent for months on whether they will receive certification to sell mifepristone under a Food and Drug Administration program that oversees how the drug is distributed to patients and used.
“It is incomprehensible that five of the nation’s largest retail pharmacies refuse to disclose whether they receive certification to provide basic, legal, and FDA-approved medical abortion care with medication to Americans,” said Rep. Dan Goldman, D-NY in a statement on Thursday.
Goldman and California Rep. Judy Chu sent a letter asking company CEOs to confirm by June 23 whether their pharmacies would be certified to sell the abortion pill.
More than 50 other Democratic lawmakers signed the letter.
“Your continued silence is unacceptable as it is inconsistent with your publicly stated values in support of equal access to health care and gender equality,” lawmakers told CEOs in the letter.
Democratic governors and senators asked companies in March whether their pharmacies would be certified to dispense the drugs. The companies have still not issued a public statement on the subject.
The largest retail pharmacies in the US are increasingly caught up in the nationwide battle over abortion access sparked by the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade was set in motion last June. More than a dozen states have banned abortions since the Supreme Court overturned the landmark 1973 ruling that protected access to the procedure as an abortion Law under the US Constitution.
In January, as conservative states introduced abortion bans after the fall of Roe, the FDA attempted to expand access to mifepristone by allowing retail pharmacies for the first time to dispense the drug if they were certified.
The agency also permanently allowed women to receive the pill in the mail.
CVS And Walgreensthe two largest pharmacy chains in the US, announced shortly after the FDA’s decision that they would be certified to sell mifepristone in places where it is legal to sell the drug.
The companies soon faced a backlash from Republican attorneys general, who feared that easier access to mifepristone, particularly by mail, would undermine their states’ restrictive abortion laws or outright bans.
Republican Attorneys General warned CEOs of CVS and Walgreens that they would take legal action if the companies sold the pill in their states. Walgreens confirmed to attorneys general that the company would not sell mifepristone in its states.
Walgreens was then slammed by California Governor Gavin Newsom. The Liberal governor refused to renew a state contract with Walgreens because of his move.
Mifepristone’s status as an FDA-approved drug faces an extremely uncertain future, even in states where abortion remains legal.
An anti-abortion group sued the FDA last November to completely remove mifepristone from the US market.
US Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk in the North Texas District ruled in favor of anti-abortion advocates in April, suspending FDA approval. The Supreme Court intervened in the case and preserved access to mifepristone as the litigation progressed.
A three-judge panel at the US Circuit Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit now has the case and could make a decision at any time. Judges at the Court of Appeal expressed skepticism about the Justice Department’s defense of mifepristone during the hearing in May.
The case is likely to end up in the Supreme Court again, especially if the Court of Appeals rules against mifepristone.
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