CVS, Walgreens To Begin Dispensing Abortion Pill

CVS and Walgreens have announced plans to begin selling the abortifacient mifepristone in the coming weeks, in accordance with state laws. The announcement comes just over a year after the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) updated its guidelines on the drug to allow retail pharmacies to dispense it.

Mifepristone, commonly known as the abortion pill, is a drug that prevents progesterone from reaching a baby developing in a woman’s womb, effectively depriving the child of necessary nutrients to survive. It is typically taken in tandem with misoprostol, which induces labor and delivers the dead baby.

Although mifepristone has been approved for use by the FDA since 2000, guidelines around its prescription and use have been increasingly relaxed in recent years, with the most recent controversy allowing the drug to be sold in retail pharmacies with little more than a permission slip.

CVS Health and Walgreens announced last week that they will be dispensing mifepristone in select states where it is legal to do so. CVS stores in Rhode Island and Massachusetts are set to begin selling the drug as well as Walgreens locations in California, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, and Pennsylvania.

The pharmacies have confirmed that they are approved to sell mifepristone at certain locations, providing women with a prescription for the pills. Although the FDA has previously rescinded the requirement to dispense the drugs in person, both companies have said they will not be providing the drugs via mail.

The method of dispensing abortion pills through the mail—which rose in popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic—has been widely criticized by conservatives who stand by data showing the serious danger mifepristone poses to women and their unborn babies, rendering at the least a need for medical supervision.

In Dec. 2023, the United States Supreme Court agreed to hear a case brought by conservative groups seeking to challenge and ultimately overturn the FDA approval of the abortion pill. The case, which could either impose national restrictions on the drugs or overturn the original approval for use, is set to launch oral arguments on Mar. 26.

Abortion pills make up the majority of abortions committed in the United States and are used up to 12 weeks gestation.

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