Boots owner embroiled in US abortion pills row after it limited access to treatment in certain states
The owner of Boots has been caught up in a major row over abortion rights in the US after the company limited access to treatment in certain states following threats of legal action.
US regulators have loosened the rules surrounding the sale of abortion pills, meaning pharmacies such as Walgreens Boots Alliance could sell them more widely.
But America’s biggest pharmacy chain said it would not dispense the popular abortion pill mifepristone in 20 Republican-led states after it received legal threats from party officials.
Legal threats: Walgreens Boots Alliance said it would not dispense the popular abortion pill mifepristone in 20 Republican-led states
In a letter sent to the company, they warned Walgreens could face legal consequences if it distributes abortion pills in their states.
Walgreens has agreed that it would not dispense the mifepristone pill in the 20 states, including Texas and Georgia, and would not ship them into the region via post.
But the decision has caused major backlash across the US.
The Democrat governor for California, Gavin Newsom, said he would refuse to do business with Walgreens or ‘any company that cowers to the extremists and puts women’s lives at risk’.
Abortion continues to be a contentious topic in the US and has drawn increasing attention since the Supreme Court last year overturned the landmark Roe v Wade ruling, which made abortion a constitutional right nationwide.
There are currently 12 states where there is a near-total ban on abortion, with very limited exceptions.
In response to the backlash, Walgreens said it will sell the drug as permitted by federal and state laws once it is certified by the relevant regulators.
‘We want to be very clear about what our position has always been: Walgreens plans to dispense mifepristone in any jurisdiction where it is legally permissible to do so,’ Walgreens said in its statement.
However, some have taken to social media to point out that the company has already agreed to stop selling the pill where abortion is currently legal, but where officials have threatened legal action.
These states include Iowa, Alaska, Kansas and Montana. Shares in Walgreens fell 3.5 per cent during trading in New York yesterday.
The company made headlines on this side of the Atlantic last year after it backtracked on a sale of the Boots business.
In June, the US pharmacy giant abandoned plans to sell the UK high street stalwart, saying buyers were unable to raise enough funds due to ongoing instability in the wider markets.
Walgreens was hoping to sell Boots for more than £5billion.
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