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CVS wants to know if certain drugs will be used for abortions

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CVS Health is asking pharmacists in some states to verify that some the prescriptions they provide will not be used to end a pregnancy.

A spokesman said Thursday that the drugstore chain recently started doing this for methotrexate and misoprostol, two drugs used in medication abortions but also to treat other conditions. The policy started the first week in July in Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Oklahoma, and Texas, spokesman Mike DeAngelis said.

The drugstore chain's request comes after the Supreme Court last month overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that had provided a constitutional right to abortion. 

The decision has put pharmacies in the middle of the national debate. Earlier this month, the Biden administration warned pharmacies not to discriminate against women over the prescriptions they seek. 

The administration noted that examples of discrimination could include a pharmacy that refuses to fill a prescription of misoprostol prescribed to help deal with a severe stomach ulcer. Methotrexate also is used to treat several types of cancers as well as rheumatoid arthritis, according to the Mayo Clinic.

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DeAngelis said state laws that restrict the dispensing of medications used for abortions have forced the company to start the validations. He noted that some of the laws come with criminal penalties.

The drugstore chain, based in Rhode Island, is asking care providers to help by including their diagnosis on the prescriptions.

DeAngelis said CVS Health will still fill prescriptions for miscarriages or ectopic pregnancies, which grow outside the womb and are not viable. "We will continue to focus on delivering care to our patients while complying with state laws and federal guidance that continues to evolve," he said.

Weeks after the Supreme Court overturn, the U.S. House passed pair of bills aimed at restoring abortion rights nationwide. The bill — known as Women's Health Protection Act of 2022 — has little chance of becoming law because it lacks sufficient support in the 50-50 Senate. 

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