California will not renew Walgreens contract over abortion tablet

California will not renew a $54 million contract Walgreens on the drugstore chain’s decision not to sell the abortion pill mifepristone in some states due to legal restrictions.

“California will not stand by as businesses cave in to extremists and shut down critical access to reproductive care and freedom,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a statement Wednesday. “California is on track to become the fourth largest economy in the world, and we will use our market power to defend the right to free choice.”

Newsom said Monday that the state is “done” with dealings with Walgreens. California used the contract to buy special prescription drugs for the prison system. The state reviews all of its business contracts with Walgreens.

Walgreens said in a statement Thursday it was “deeply disappointed” by California’s decision, which the company blamed on “false and misleading information.”

“Walgreens is facing the same circumstances as all retail pharmacies and no other retail pharmacy has said they would address this situation differently, so it’s unclear where this contract is moving now,” said Fraser Engerman, a spokesman for the company.

“Our position has always been that once we’re FDA certified, Walgreens plans to distribute mifepristone in every jurisdiction where it’s legal, including the state of California,” Engerman said.

Republican attorneys general in 21 states warned Walgreens in February that selling or distributing the abortion pill in their states would violate local laws.

The drugstore chain told them it would not sell or ship mifepristone in their states.

The Food and Drug Administration in January allowed retail pharmacies like Walgreens to sell mifepristone as long as they are certified under an agency program that oversees how the pill is used and distributed. Walgreens and CVS have announced that they will be certified under this program.

At least 12 states have banned abortion since the Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. Wade lifted. Several other states have stricter restrictions on mifepristone than the FDA.

Walgreens also doesn’t sell the abortion pill in states like Alaska, Kansas and Montana, where abortion is protected as a right under state constitutions.

Alaska requires patients to get birth control pills from a doctor. In Kansas, the state had required patients to receive the abortion pill in person from a doctor, but a state court blocked that law in November. Montana’s requirement that patients see a doctor to get mifepristone is also being temporarily blocked by a court.

The drugstore chain also won’t sell mifepristone in Iowa, where the state Supreme Court overturned state protections for abortions last year.

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