Newsom says California won’t do business with Walgreens after it pulls abortion pills

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Gavin Newsom has announced that California “won’t be doing business with Walgreens” after the retailer announced last week that it will no longer sell abortion medication in 20 states.

“California won’t be doing business with [Walgreens] — or any company that cowers to the extremists and puts women’s lives at risk,” Mr Newsom tweeted on Monday. “We’re done.”

Walgreens’ decision to stop selling mifepristone, the first of two medications necessary for a medication abortion, is another blow to the reproductive rights movement.

Medication abortion is the most common kind of abortion in the US and is currently legal in 37 states – including states where the retailer will no longer offer the medication.

Retailers have faced pressure from anti-abortion groups who are seeking to fully cut off abortion access following last June’s Supreme Court ruling.

In February, Republican attorneys general of 20 states signed a letter addressed to Walgreens threatening the company over its distribution of mifepristone – the same 20 states Walgreens will no longer sell the drug in.

The retailer also made its announcement in advance of a forthcoming ruling from a conservative judge in Texas on a lawsuit seeking to block the use of medication abortion across the country in what is the most significant abortion-related legal case since Roe v Wade was overturned last year.

The lawsuit, filed by an anti-abortion group, targets the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval of mifepristone two decades ago. Unlike the decision reversing Roe v Wade, a reversal of the FDA’s approval of mifepristone would likely affect people in every state.

Walgreens’ decision to stop selling the drug in advance of any legal ruling, however, irked abortion rights advocates who noted that it will make it harder for people to get healthcare and could put lives in danger.

Mr Newsom, who has criticised the Democratic Party for not doing enough to fight back against far-right social policy, made his feelings clear on Monday.

It is not immediately clear how much business the State of California has with Walgreens or how exactly that business would be affected, but Mr Newsom’s stand nevertheless won plaudits from Nancy Sinatra, a resident of the Los Angeles area.

“Thank you, Governor! Since California has the 4th largest economy in the world, people had better begin to pay attention to [Gavin Newsom],” Ms Sinatra tweeted.

Other major retailers like CVS, RiteAid and Kroger have not yet made clear if they plan to continue distributing mifepristone in the future following Walgreens’ announcement.

Mr Newsom has attempted to elevate his national profile over the last year as he eyes a potential run for the presidency – positioning his governorship as an antidote to governor Ron DeSantis’s in Florida.

Mr Newsom, a former San Francisco mayor, said he will only run next year if president Joe Biden declines to pursue a second term.

Mr Biden, should he choose to run again, will have at least one primary opponent: author Marianne Williamson, who also pursued the nomination in 2020, announced her candidacy last week.

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