IN Brief

Walgreens says it won’t sell abortion pills in Indiana, following letter from attorneys general

By: - March 7, 2023 6:00 am

Walgreens has responded to pressure from conservative Attorneys General on mailing abortion pills even in states where abortion is legal. (Clark Kauffman/Iowa Capital Dispatch)

Walgreens said it won’t dispense abortion pills in Indiana after Attorney General Todd Rokita and 19 other attorneys general threatened legal action if the pharmacy company sells the pills by mail.

The group of 20 Republican attorneys general warned CVS and Walgreens in a letter last month that they could face legal consequences if they sell abortion pills by mail in their states. That was shortly after the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) rule change that broadens availability for the pills.

The letter was penned by Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey and cosigned by attorneys general in Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia.

Walgreens has since responded to the letter, saying it will not dispense the abortion pill mifepristone in those states — including Indiana.

“Walgreens does not intend to dispense Mifepristone within your state and does not intend to ship Mifeprstone into your state from any of our pharmacies. If this approach changes, we will be sure to notify you,” the letter sent to Rokita and other attorneys general said.

Indiana lawmakers passed a near-total abortion ban last year that was in effect for just a week in September before a Republican judge in Owen County issued a first temporary injunction in a lawsuit that challenges the constitutionality of the law based on liberty and privacy protections.

The decision put the ban on hold while Indiana Supreme Court justices continue to weigh the case.  Under that injunction, the state’s previous abortion law stands — allowing abortions up to 20 weeks.

It is still illegal for pharmacies in Indiana to dispense abortion pills, however — those drugs must be administered by a physician.

Walgreens said last month that it was not dispensing mifepristone at any locations but was working to get certified by the FDA to do so. The pharmacy chain now says it’s still taking steps to sell the drug in “jurisdictions where it is legal and operationally feasible.”

The FDA ruled in January that retail pharmacies can get certified to dispense mifepristone and agree to accept prescriptions from certified providers if they meet standards in shipping, tracking and confidentially storing drug-prescribing records.

The process requires pharmacies to meet specific standards for shipping and tracking, as well as ensuring confidential storage of drug prescribing records.

Mifepristone is FDA-approved to terminate pregnancies of up to 10 weeks, when used with a second drug, misoprostol. 

More than half of U.S. abortions are now done with pills rather than surgery, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights.

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Casey Smith
Casey Smith

A lifelong Hoosier, Casey Smith previously reported on the Indiana Legislature for The Associated Press. Internationally, she has reported on water quality across South America. She holds a master’s degree in investigative reporting and narrative science writing from the University of California/Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism. She previously earned degrees in journalism, anthropology and Spanish from Ball State University, where she now serves as an instructor of journalism.

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