Watch CBS News

California cancels Walgreens contract over its abortion pill stance

California governor slams Walgreens
California governor says state won't do business with Walgreens over abortion pill decision 00:31

California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday said the state will not renew its multi-million dollar contract with Walgreens over the pharmacy chain's recent decision not to distribute abortion medication by mail in 21 U.S. states.

The state's contract with Walgreens allowed it to procure specialty prescription drugs that were primarily used by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

The state had paid Walgreens roughly $54 million throughout the entirety of the contract. 

Newsom has formally notified the state's Department of General Services that California will not proceed with a planned renewal of its agreement with Walgreens, which was set to renew on May 1. The state "instead will explore other options for furnishing the same services," Newsom's office said. 

"California will not stand by as corporations cave to extremists and cut off critical access to reproductive care and freedom," Newsom said in a statement Wednesday. "California is on track to be the fourth largest economy in the world and we will leverage our market power to defend the right to choose."

A spokesperson for Walgreens told CBS MoneyWatch that the company is "deeply disappointed" over the decision, which it claims was based on "false and misleading information."

"Walgreens is facing the same circumstances as all retail pharmacies, and no other retail pharmacies have said that they would approach this situation differently, so it's unclear where this contract would now be moved," Walgreens said. 

The pharmacy maintains that once Walgreens is certified by the Food and Drug Administration, it will dispense Mifepristone wherever it is legal to do so.  

The announcement comes after Newsom on Monday said it would stop doing business with the second-largest U.S. pharmacy chain over its abortion pill stance. 

He initially denounced Walgreens after it said on Friday that while it's not currently dispensing Mifepristone, part of the two-drug combination commonly referred to as the abortion pill, it doesn't intend to do so in the 21 states where attorneys general threatened the pharmacy chain. 

"California won't be doing business with @walgreens — or any company that cowers to the extremists and puts women's lives at risk. We're done," Newsom tweeted Monday.

Newsom's office said in a statement to CBS News earlier in the week that "California is reviewing all relationships between Walgreens and the state."

"We will not pursue business with companies that cave to right wing bullies pushing their extremist agenda or companies that put politics above the health of women and girls," his office said.

The move comes after Republican attorneys in 21 states pressured Walgreens not to sell abortion medication and threatened legal action. 

Walgreens said in a statement Monday that it "plans to dispense Mifepristone in any jurisdiction where it is legally permissible to do so."

"Once we are certified by the FDA, we will dispense this medication consistent with federal and state laws. Providing legally approved medications to patients is what pharmacies do, and is rooted in our commitment to the communities in which we operate," the statement continued. 

More than half of all abortions performed in the U.S. use mifepristone. The drug, which is also used to treat miscarriages, can be ordered online with a prescription, even in states where surgical abortions are restricted. 

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.