California Governor Gavin Newsom announced Monday that his state will no longer do business with Walgreens because the pharmacy chain decided not to dispense abortion pills.
Walgreens initially said in January that it would offer mifepristone, one of the medications used to induce an abortion. The Food and Drug Administration changed its rules to allow pharmacies in states that still allow abortion to dispense the drug. Pharmacies would need to get certified to do so because the FDA currently classifies mifepristone as a high-risk drug, despite the fact that there is no data backing that decision up.
Walgreens and CVS, two of the biggest U.S. pharmacy chains, said they would seek certification. But in February, Walgreens changed course following intense pressure from anti-abortion lawmakers and said it would no longer dispense mifepristone in 20 states with Republican attorneys general.
Newsom slammed the chain Monday, saying its decision “cowers to extremists and puts women’s lives at risk.”
Newsom did not say what he meant by ceasing to do business, for instance whether he would order all Walgreens locations in California to close. He also has yet to outline a plan for what happens after business with Walgreens stops, including making sure that the measure does not accidentally strand communities without an easily accessible pharmacy.
But Newsom is the first governor to take such a clear stance in favor of maintaining access to abortion, an important move as the right to the procedure is increasingly under attack.
Medication abortions make up more than half of all abortions in the United States and are considered a crucial tool in maintaining access to the procedure since Roe v. Wade was overturned.
Republican lawmakers are trying to make it harder to access abortion pills, for instance in Texas, where an official introduced a bill last week that would compel internet providers in the state to block websites that sell or provide information on how to obtain the medication. Another lawmaker introduced a bill that would ban credit card companies from processing transactions for abortion pills.
A federal judge will soon rule whether the FDA improperly approved mifepristone for sale, which could make it more difficult to purchase the medicine.