In the latest abortion development in Kansas, Walgreens announced it will not distribute abortion pills after receiving a letter from Attorney General Kris Kobach.
The move comes six months after voters affirmed abortion rights in August by rejecting the “Value Them Both” constitutional amendment that would have authorized the state legislature to ban abortions.
In a Feb. 6 letter to the pharmacy giant regarding the distribution of the abortion-inducing drug Mifepristone, Kobach said shipping the pills to Kansas violates state and federal laws and threatened to prosecute if it happens.
“As the head of law enforcement in Kansas, I am writing to warn you that this plan is illegal and Kansas will not hesitate to enforce the law,” Kobach wrote to Walgreens.
In a response letter, Walgreens acknowledged it is seeking federal certification to sell the drug, but said no in Kansas.
Walgreens is not currently dispensing Mifepristone at any of its locations, said the letter from Danielle C. Gray, the company’s chief legal officer and executive vice president. “Walgreens does not intend to dispense Mifepristone in your state and does not intend to ship Mifepristone to your state from any of our pharmacies. If this approach changes, we will certainly notify you.
The legality of such sales is a controversial issue.
The Biden administration has allowed abortion-inducing drugs to be shipped as an emergency measure during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Justice Department has issued an opinion that may continue.
“It is illegal to knowingly ship any article or thing designed, adapted, or intended to produce abortion,” Kobach’s letter reads. “It is also illegal to mail any article, implement, substance, drug, medicine or thing that is advertised or described in a manner calculated to induce another to use or apply it to produce abortion.”
Kobach also cited a Kansas law requiring women to take abortion drugs in the same room with the prescriber. That law is currently blocked by a court order.
Kansans for life, the state’s leading anti-abortion group, released a statement hailing Walgreens’ decision and Kobach’s demands.
“Kansans for Life applauds Attorney General Kobach for swift action to clearly communicate his steadfast determination to uphold the rule of law,” said Danielle Underwood, director of communications for KFL. “We are calling for other pharmacies to also commit to protecting the health and safety of women who would be endangered by a lack of monitoring of these deadly chemicals.”
Trust Women, the abortion rights group that helped lead the fight against August’s amendment, said Kobach was overreacting.
“Mifepristone has been a safe and effective abortion method approved by the FDA for more than 20 years,” the group said in a statement. “The Attorney General is not a doctor, but he still feels qualified to intervene on issues that politicians in Kansan have continually insisted politicians leave to medical professionals – until last August, when voters rejected an anti- -abortion”.
The FDA released a statement outlining updates to current access to abortion drugs. The new ruling would allow more retail pharmacies, such as Walgreens, to supply drugs used in medical abortions.
Planned Parenthood launched abortion with telehealth drugs in December in an effort to expand access options in Kansas. The only state clinics that provide abortions are in Wichita and the Kansas City area.