New York Governor Kathy Hochul and Attorney General Letitia James have written a letter to the CEOs of Walgreens, Rite Aid, and CVS, calling on these corporations, which represent the majority of pharmacies in the State of New York, to provide information about their plans to make the abortion medication mifepristone available. This move comes after one pharmacy chain announced that they will no longer dispense mifepristone in certain states after receiving pressure from anti-abortion politicians.
In the wake of the leaked Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe last year, New York State took proactive steps to protect access to in-clinic care, including making a nation-leading $35 million investment to support abortion providers across the state and signing a comprehensive legislative package to protect both abortion providers and their patients.
The letter called on the pharmacy CEOs to commit to making medication abortion available in their retail and mail-order pharmacies across New York State. The CEOs were urged not to allow the tactics of anti-choice forces to intimidate them and to commit to making the critical medication available as widely as possible, based on a fair and unbiased interpretation of state and federal law.
The letter contained two critical questions that the CEOs must answer within ten business days. They were asked if they will commit to dispensing mifepristone to patients with a doctor’s prescription at all FDA-certified pharmacy locations in the State of New York and if they will commit to dispensing mifepristone via mail with a doctor’s prescription to patients in the State of New York. The Governors warned that New Yorkers urgently need clarity on these questions, as reproductive rights are being undermined across the nation.
Abortion is legal and protected as a fundamental right under state law, and there are no legal barriers to dispensing mifepristone in New York pharmacies. The letter reminded pharmacy CEOs that they are entrusted with making decisions that could greatly impact the availability of this essential medication statewide.
In December 2022, the FDA announced that it would permanently lift the medically unnecessary requirement on in-person dispensing of mifepristone, an FDA-approved medication used for abortion care and to treat miscarriages. The announcement was welcomed by New York State, and the Governor was equally heartened by initial announcements that the major national pharmacy chains, including Walgreens, Rite Aid, and CVS, would seek certification from the FDA to dispense the medication.
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