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Boycott Walgreens! Pharmacy Refuses To Sell Legal Reproductive Care Meds in GOP-Run States

by Faith Green

In the crusade against abortion rights, Walgreens is now refusing to sell the legal abortion pill Mifepristone in 20 states across the nation due to pressure from pro-life activists and anti-abortion lobbyists. In 2020, Mifepristone, which is used in combination with Misoprostol to terminate a pregnancy), was reported to be the most common method of abortion, with 51% of all pregnancy terminations occurring via pill.  As more regulations are announced, the options for safe and legal abortions diminish, so Walgreens’ refusal to carry Mifepristone, even in the states where it’s completely legal to do so, could have severe consequences for people looking to access reproductive care.

On March 2, the retail corporation, which also owns New York City’s Duane Reade, announced it would halt distribution of Mifepristone as a result of mounting pressure from Republican state officials and other right-leaning political figureheads. This is primarily in response to Kansas State Attorney General Kris Kobach, who wrote a strongly-worded letter addressed to Walgreens Boots Alliance (the company that owns Walgreens and its subsidiaries), that threatened legal action if they continued dispensing the medical abortion pill by mail. Kobach cites Section 1461 of title 18 of the U.S. Code,  which states that it’s illegal to mail “Every article or thing designed, adapted, or intended for producing abortion.” Here’s the catch; the FDA permanently bypassed this law in 2023, after the Biden administration incited the rule change during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic as a means to ensure access to reproductive healthcare.

These changes were made to widen accessibility, yet Walgreens is able to override them entirely by choosing to side with anti-abortion activism. Pro-life activists reversing this access is indicative of an even more daunting issue. Conservatives are taking advantage of the legislative blurred lines brought about by the overturning of Roe V. Wade, and that could mean dark days for pro-choice individuals nationwide.  

Following the announcement, politics-based media outlet Politico broke the incredibly shocking news. The author, Alice Miranda Ollstein, reposted the article on her Twitter. Less than 24 hours later, it had over 4 million views, and the internet has been in an uproar ever since. 

The article highlights the ever growing difficulty of accessing reproductive care:  “The decision is the latest to demonstrate how widely abortion access can vary state to state in a post-Roe America, even in places where there are no bans in effect — as elected officials tussle with the federal government, activists and corporations to block the availability of services.” Ollstein goes on to detail how activist groups have been threatening to take legal action against pharmacies that distribute the drug. Whether it’s by a strongly worded letter, or by picketing & protesting, the fight for abortion rights is getting hit from all sides.

People from all corners of the web are calling for boycotts. Social media is ablaze with commotion, focusing on what Walgreens’ decision means for abortion rights nationwide.  Last week, feminist author and TikToker Jessica Valenti (@auntiekilljoy), posted a video in which she stated, “Walgreens has caved to a conservative intimidation campaign.. They don’t have plans to ship or dispense Mifepristone in Kansas… [despite the fact that] Kansas is a pro-choice state where abortion medication is legal… ” The video closes with a call to action, in which Valenti encourages viewers to contact the leadership team at Walgreens. 

@auntiekilljoy More than half of women ending their pregnancies use abortion medication – we can’t let these companies cave to conservative pressure #feminism #fyp #abortion #abortioneveryday ♬ original sound – Jessica Valenti

This is not the first time Walgreens has come under fire for their anti-choice decisions. In the summer of 2022, a couple was refused condoms by a Walgreens employee on the basis of faith. Surprisingly, this practice of refusal is completely allowed by the company. 

More recently, @musclesandnursing posted a TikTok early Friday morning, and the frustration was palpable. “Pull every single one of your prescriptions from Walgreens. Every single one. Don’t use them, period.” 

Walgreens now joins Hobby Lobby and Chick-Fil-A as companies that anyone who respects women or the LGBTQIA+ community should avoid at all costs. 

This entire situation is indicative of the growing number of obstacles and restrictions to access in what Ollstein calls a “Post-Roe America.” But what exactly will that mean for our rights, and just how hard will we have to fight to maintain them?

Top Photo: teofilo, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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