California will sever business ties with Walgreens after the pharmacy giant announced it would not distribute abortion pills in several states where abortion is legal, Gov. Gavin Newsom wrote Monday in a tweet.
“California won’t be doing business with @walgreens — or any company that cowers to the extremists and puts women’s lives at risk,” Newsom wrote. “We’re done.”
A spokesperson for Newsom, Brandon Richards, said in a statement to NBC News that “California is reviewing all relationships between Walgreens and the state.”
Richards declined to clarify how California would cut ties with Walgreens and what the state’s current business with the pharmacy chain is.
Walgreens announced last week that it would not sell abortion pills in several states where abortion remains legal, including Alaska, Florida, Iowa and Montana. The pharmacy chain had faced pressure from 20 Republican attorneys general, who sent Walgreens a letter saying the company could face legal consequences if it sold abortion medication in those states, some where abortion is illegal and some where it remains legal.
Walgreens did not respond to a request for comment about Newsom’s statement, but released a statement Monday, the same day as Newsom. The pharmacy said it “plans to dispense mifepristone in any jurisdiction where it is legally permissible to do so.” Last week, Fraser Engerman, Walgreens’ senior director of external relations, told NBC News that the chain was not dispensing mifepristone anywhere in the country. Engerman added that Walgreens was seeking FDA certification to sell mifepristone, but was navigating a “complex and in-flux area of the law.”
Newsom, a Democrat, has positioned himself as a crusader for abortion rights. Last month, he spearheaded an alliance for Democratic governors to share model legislation and potential executive orders around safeguarding abortion access.
Medication abortion has become a new battleground for abortion rights, with pharmacies often caught in the crossfire. It accounted for more than half of all U.S. abortions in 2020, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that advocates for abortion access. Mifepristone is usually the first drug used in a two-drug medication abortion regimen.
“I think you’ll see real efforts to target it, to try to take it off the markets, to ban it in states, as well as efforts to make it more accessible,” Rachel Rebouché, dean of the Temple University Law School and an expert in reproductive health law, told NBC News about abortion pills. “So I think this is what will occupy legislators’ and advocates’ attention in the coming years.”