Major pharmaceutical company Walgreens has announced that it will not distribute abortion pills in over 20 states, including some where the drug is currently legal.
The Food and Drug Administration's decision in January allowed drugstores to supply mifepristone, an in demand medication that accounts for half of all abortions in the country. It can also be sold online and delivered by mail anywhere in the United States through participating pharmacies.
While Walgreens has said it will work to receive certification under the program, it will only only supply the drug “in those jurisdictions where it is legal to do so," according to company spokesman Fraser Engerman.
“This is a very complex and in flux area of the law and we are taking that into account as we seek certification to dispense mifepristone,” he said via The Washington Post.
Twenty Republican states warned legal action against pharmacies if they participate in the FDA program. Walgreens promised each that they would not supply the drug in their state.
The company also will not provide mifepristone in Alaska, Iowa, Kansas, or Montana — all states where it is currently legal.
State policy expert with the abortion-rights organization Guttmacher Institute, Elizabeth Nash, told Politico that Walgreens' decision is "denying people agency over their lives."
“When we’re thinking about states that have a lot of their population in rural areas, it’s much more likely that a pharmacy is nearby than a provider’s office," she explained. "So these pharmacies play an outsized role in patient health and access to health care.”
The decision is expected to influence whether CVS, which is slightly larger than Walgreens, will distribute the drug. Neither CVS nor Rite-Aid have announced their decisions yet.