While pharmacy giant Walgreens recently indicated it plans to get certified to sell the abortion drug Mifepristone in its U.S. stores, the company sent a letter to Kansas Attorney General Kris Kobach on Friday confirming it has no plans to dispensing the abortion pill in Kansas.
The AG had written to Walgreens on February 6 to inform the company that selling abortion pills in Kansas, or shipping such pills into the state, would be a federal crime.
“I have become aware of your company’s recently announced plan to provide abortifacients through its mail-order pharmacy business,” Kobach wrote to Danielle Gray, executive vice president of Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. “As chief force officer of the order in Kansas, I am writing to inform you that this plan is illegal and Kansas will not hesitate to enforce the law.”
The pharmacy giant responded to Kobach with a letter on Feb. 17.
“Although Walgreens has publicly expressed its intent to become a Certified Pharmacy under the FDA program, the company made it clear that it would do so in compliance with all applicable laws and, as a result, would not be able to dispense Mifepristone across all locations,” Danielle Gray, executive vice president of Walgreens Boots Alliance, wrote.
“Furthermore, Walgreens has not made any statements regarding the use of our mail order pharmacy business to dispense this drug.”
The move was hailed as a victory by pro-life organizations in the state, with Kansans for Life praising Kobach for “his steadfast determination to uphold the rule of law.”
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently dropped restrictions that prevented retail pharmacies from selling the abortion pill Mifepristone. Had they obtained the proper certification, pharmacies would now be free to dispense the drug.
Walgreens and CVS Pharmacies later announced plans to complete the FDA certification process and begin selling Mifepristone in abortion-allowed states.
Concerned about newly certified retail pharmacies shipping such products to Kansas, however, Kobach cited federal criminal law, US Code 1461 (2018), stating that it is illegal to knowingly ship any article or thing designed, adapted, or intended to produce the ‘abortion.
Under the code, it is also illegal to ship any article, tool, substance, drug, medicine, or thing advertised or described in a way calculated to induce another to use or apply it to produce abortion.
“This is a federal criminal law, of course. And normally, the national government’s firm determination not to enforce the law would be the end of things,” wrote Kobach (pdf). “But this is not a normal criminal statute, because it can be enforced by a normal partisan lawsuit under the Racketeer and Corruption Influenced Organizations Act (RICO).”
In addition to federal law, Kansas state law requires that the abortion pill be administered only in the same room and in the physical presence of the physician who prescribed, dispensed, or otherwise provided the patient with the drug. Mail-order prescriptions aren’t consistent with this requirement, Kobach said.
“President Biden is tied to the most extreme pro-abortion voices in the country who consistently advocate expanding the abortion regime without any consideration of the legality, or even a woman’s safety,” Kobach said. “But nothing requires you to join him. The law says what it says. I encourage you to follow it.
Right-wing attorneys general in 20 states have warned CVS and Walgreens they could face legal consequences if they sell abortion pills by mail in those states.
“Walgreens is not currently dispensing Mifepristone at any of its locations,” Gray wrote. “To obtain certification from the FDA, participating pharmacies must meet a number of safety and risk mitigation requirements to dispense this drug. At this time, we are working on the certification process, which includes evaluating our pharmacy network to determine where we will dispense Mifepristone, training protocols and updates for our pharmacists. 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.”