Mar 9, 2023 - Health

New York governor, AG urge biggest pharmacy chains to commit to abortion pills

A CVS location in New York is pictured on Feb. 9. Photo: Stephanie Keith/Bloomberg via Getty Images

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) and state Attorney General Letitia James are pressuring the nation's largest pharmacy chains to commit to making abortion pills available in the state.

Driving the news: In a letter sent Thursday to the CEOs of Walgreens, Rite Aid and CVS Health, the state's top officials asked for a commitment to dispense mifepristone to patients with a doctor’s prescription, calling it an "essential medication."

  • "If not, what is the legal basis for this decision?" they questioned.

What they're saying: "Even as access to this medication is under threat elsewhere for political reasons, we remind you that New York’s law is simple," Hochul and James said in the letter.

  • "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."
  • "New Yorkers urgently need their health care providers to clearly stand up for access to reproductive health care," the letter concludes.
  • CVS Health and Rite Aid did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment.

Don’t forget: CVS and Walgreens have already said that they intend to become certified and dispense mifepristone in states where it is legally possible to do so.

  • Rite Aid said in a statement that it is “monitoring the latest federal, state, legal and regulatory developments” to evaluate the company’s ability to dispense mifepristone.

Thought bubble via Axios’ Oriana Gonzalez: New York is already a state that guarantees abortion access and does not have any restrictions on abortion pills, so it is highly unlikely that pharmacies would not be able to dispense mifepristone in the state.

Zoom out: A group of over 20 Democratic governors that includes Hochul announced last month that they're forming a coalition to protect and expand abortion access in their states as bans continue to be enacted following the fall of Roe v. Wade.

  • California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who initiated the coalition, announced Wednesday that it would not renew a $54 million contract with Walgreens over the chain's decision to not dispense abortion pills in some states where abortion remains legal.
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