CVS and Walgreens to start dispensing abortion pills next week

CVS and Walgreens, two of the country’s largest retail pharmacies, received a federal green light to begin dispensing mifepristone, commonly known as “the abortion pill”, in Pennsylvania as early as next week, NPR reported today.

The Deerfield-based company said it will start selling the pill in states where it is legal: Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and California.

“We are beginning a phased rollout in select locations to allow us to ensure quality, safety, and privacy for our patients, providers, and team members,” Walgreens said in a statement.

Mifepristone is part of a two-drug regimen that is used to end pregnancies up to 10 weeks of gestation. It is used in more than half of all abortions, the abortion-rights nonprofit Guttmacher Institute has said.

The expansion of access to abortion comes at a time when many states are further restricting a path to the procedure. Since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in 2022, most Republican-controlled states have enacted abortion bans of some kind, NPR said.

“With major retail pharmacy chains newly certified to dispense medication abortion, many women will soon have the option to pick up their prescription at a local, certified pharmacy — just as they would for any other medication,” President Biden said in a statement. “I encourage all pharmacies that want to pursue this option to seek certification.”

CVS and Walgreens were criticized by antiabortion groups Friday over their decision to dispense mifepristone. Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America called the pharmacies’ actions “shameful” and accused the Biden administration of “pushing to turn every pharmacy and post office in America into an abortion center for the sake of abortion industry greed.”

The Supreme Court is set to consider access to medication abortion in the coming weeks.

In our area, there are CVS stores at 2622 Jenkintown Road in Glenside and 835 Old York Road in Jenkintown.

Walgreens can be found at 1 Yorktown Plaza, Elkins Park and 2727 W Cheltenham Avenue, Wyncote, and 1456 Bethlehem Pike, Flourtown.

For more information about the pill, you can visit the FDA’s information page.

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Photo: Allen G. Breed/AP