California Banning Walgreens Over Disagreement?

On Wednesday, Governor Gavin Newsom declared that California would not extend its multimillion dollar contract with Walgreens.

The decision came after the company’s refusal to provide medication abortion in states where abortion is legal. The California Department of General Services issued a notice indicating that the planned renewal of the agreement would be withdrawn, effective May 1, 2023.

Newsom’s office released a statement stating that the state would search for other options to provide similar services.

“Under this contract, Walgreens has received about $54 million from the State,” the statement said.

“California will not stand by as corporations cave to extremists and cut off critical access to reproductive care and freedom,” Newsom said. “California is on track to be the fourth largest economy in the world and we will leverage our market power to defend the right to choose.”

Walgreens did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Last week, Walgreens declared its stance on abortion pills after being pressured by a group of Republican attorney generals, some of whom operate in states where abortion is permitted and others where it is banned.

In a letter, the group cautioned the company of possible legal ramifications if it sold medications like mifepristone, a prevalent abortion pill, in their respective states. In response, Governor Newsom announced on Monday that the state would no longer engage in business with Walgreens as a result of the company’s decision.

“California won’t be doing business with @walgreens — or any company that cowers to the extremists and puts women’s lives at risk. We’re done,” he tweeted at the time.

In a statement to NBC News on Monday, Governor Newsom’s spokesperson Brandon Richards stated that California is currently reassessing its association with Walgreens. Richards affirmed that the state will not engage in business with companies that prioritize their political agenda over women and girls’ health or give in to right-wing bullying tactics.

Walgreens spokesperson Fraser Engerman reported to NBC News last week that the company is presently not dispensing mifepristone. However, they intend to become a certified pharmacy under the program, but will only distribute the medication in jurisdictions where it is legal to do so, after being certified. Engerman acknowledged the complex and dynamic nature of the law surrounding this issue as they endeavor to obtain certification.

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