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Pritzker calls on Walgreens to "rethink" decision not to sell abortion pill by mail in 20 states

Walgreens won't sell abortion pills by mail in 20 states
Walgreens won't sell abortion pills by mail in 20 states 00:34

CHICAGO (CBS/AP) -- Deerfield-based Walgreens says it won't sell abortion pills by mail in 20 states. Illinois is not one of those states, but Gov. JB Pritzker is pushing for the company to rethink its decision.

Walgreens confirmed in a statement to CBS News that while it was "not dispensing Mifepristone at this time," it did tell the attorneys general of 20 states that they "do not intend to dispense Mifepristone in their states."

Politico was first to report about Walgreens' decision.

A letter dated Feb. 1 from Republican Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey to the nation's largest pharmacy-dispensing companies was co-signed by 19 other attorneys general warning that the sale of abortion pills would violate federal law and abortion laws in many states. Missouri is among the states that implemented strict abortion prohibitions last summer after the Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade.

In addition to Missouri, the attorneys general from Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and West Virginia signed the letter.

Walgreens said in its statement to CBS News that it intended to "become a certified pharmacy under the program, however we will only dispense in those jurisdictions where it is legal to do if we are certified."

The decision by Walgreens comes as a federal judge in Texas is set to rule on a lawsuit that seeks to restrict access to Mifepristone, which is one of the two drugs typically used to induce a medicated abortion.

In a tweet, Gov. JB Pritzker called on Walgreens to rethink its policy.

"Women across the nation will be denied their right to access healthcare they are legally entitled to because of this awful corporate decision," he wrote. "To all the other pharmacy providers, we'll stand with you so you can provide this lifesaving care."

More than half of all abortions in the U.S. use mifepristone. 

A lawsuit filed by the Alliance for Hippocratic medicine, an anti-abortion organization, seeks to reverse the Food and Drug Administration's approval of the drug and remove it from the market. The lawsuit alleges there have not been sufficient studies into the safety of mifepristone. 

Mifepristone can be ordered online with a prescription, even in states where surgical abortions are restricted. The drug is also used to treat miscarriages.

The decision in the lawsuit is now in the hands of a Trump-appointed federal judge.

The FDA for more than 20 years limited dispensing of the drug to a subset of specialty offices and clinics because of safety concerns. But it eased restrictions since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic by eliminating the in-person requirement for the pill and allowing brick-and-mortar pharmacies to dispense it. At least one lawsuit filed by abortion opponents argues that the FDA has overstepped its authority in approving the abortion drugs.

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