Attorney General Rosenblum Leads Group Defending Access to Medication Abortion at CVS, Walgreens Stores

February 16, 2023
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Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum today led a coalition of 23 state attorneys general in supporting a decision by CVS and Walgreens pharmacies to begin offering mifepristone and misoprostol, or “medication abortion,” in their stores. The decision, announced by the two companies last month, followed a recent rule change by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that will allow retail pharmacies to dispense mifepristone to patients with a prescription for the drug.  The two companies will first seek certification by the FDA. Mifepristone and misoprostol are used widely not only for abortions, but also to treat miscarriages, pregnancy complications, and gastric ulcers. They have been approved for use by the FDA for over 20 years.

In the letter sent to CVS and Walgreens today, the attorneys general write that making the medications available at their pharmacies would enable millions of individuals to access this critical—and sometimes lifesaving—reproductive care.

After CVS and Walgreens announced their decision to offer mifepristone and misoprostol last month, a different group of attorneys general from anti-abortion states wrote a letter to the companies, warning them of legal repercussions if the pharmacies attempt to dispense the medications by mail.

“Mifepristone and misoprostol are safe, effective medications that are prescribed by doctors for many purposes, including abortion,” stated Oregon Attorney General Rosenblum.” Attorneys general in anti-abortion states are trying to scare retail pharmacy chains away from offering these critical medications. But, in a time when reproductive health care is under attack, our group of 23 attorneys general strongly believe we should be encouraging companies and providers to offer easily accessible, safe, and confidential healthcare as broadly as possible.”

In today’s letter, the 23 attorneys general assured CVS and Walgreens that the companies’ decision to dispense mifepristone and misoprostol is legal and supported by over a hundred years of legal precedent. The legal theory cited by the anti-abortion states in their letter has been repeatedly and consistently rejected by federal courts and Congress.

Specifically, the letter highlights:

  1. Mifepristone and misoprostol are safe, effective, and reliable medications. The anti-abortion states’ claim that “abortion pills are far riskier than surgical abortion” has been proven utterly false over and over again in numerous scientific studies.
  2. Restricting access to medication abortion jeopardizes patients’ health, safety, and well-being, often forcing them to delay their care or seek abortions through unsafe means. By contrast, ensuring access to medication abortion as early as possible lowers the risk of complications.
  3. Having the option to use medication abortion empowers people to make the personal and confidential choice of which method of abortion is better for them based on factors including cost, accessibility, medical history, age, and a desire to avoid surgery. Many who become pregnant choose medication over surgical abortion because it can offer a more private and flexible option.
  4. Increased access to reproductive care is especially important for communities underserved by the healthcare system, including people of color, low-income people, people with disabilities, LGBTQ individuals, and people living in rural areas, who face the greatest barriers to getting the care they need in a timely and safe manner.

Today’s letter to CVS and Walgreens was led by the Attorneys General of Oregon, California and Washington. They were joined by 20 other states, including Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

There are 79 Walgreens and 28 CVS locations in Oregon.

Read the full letter here.