Boston/ Health & Lifestyle
AI Assisted Icon
Published on March 02, 2024
CVS and Walgreens to Dispense Abortion Pills in MA, RI, and BeyondSource: Unsplash/ Hal Gatewood

In a move that significantly broadens the availability of abortion services, CVS and Walgreens, two of the country's largest pharmacy chains, have announced they will start dispensing the abortion pill mifepristone. As reported by the Boston Globe, CVS will provide the pill in Massachusetts, and Rhode Island while Walgreens's plan includes Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, California, and Illinois.

The Food and Drug Administration, last year set the stage for pharmacies to make this significant leap by issuing updated guidelines. In response, CVS spokesperson Amy Thibault announced, "We've received certification to dispense mifepristone at CVS Pharmacy and plan to fill prescriptions for this medication in states where legally permissible." Meanwhile, Gov. Maura Healey of Massachusetts, where CVS is set to offer the drug, said in a statement obtained by NBC Boston, "We applaud CVS and Walgreens for taking this important step to expand access to mifepristone," cementing Massachusetts' commitment to protecting reproductive care.

The impact of this decision is underscored by the looming Supreme Court hearing on the availability of mifepristone. Both pharmacy chains are preparing to navigate the complex legal landscape, with particular attention to states where abortion restrictions are challenged in court. "We’ll begin filling prescriptions for the medication in Massachusetts and Rhode Island in the weeks ahead and will expand to additional states, where allowed by law, on a rolling basis," Thibault explained. These developments could prove pivotal as medication abortion is the most commonly used method for terminating pregnancies in the United States, according to the FDA.

Dr. Benjamin Brown, from Women & Infants Hospital in Providence told the Boston Globe, "having mifepristone available in pharmacies in Rhode Island and Massachusetts will mean more patients will have access to the care they need, in a way that works for them." Meanwhile, ACLU leaders have expressed strong support for the move. "It is a great benefit to patients," said Steven Brown, executive director of ACLU of Rhode Island, about the anticipated availability of the pill through retail pharmacies. While the initial demand remains uncertain, reproductive rights advocates are hailing the decision as a significant step forward for patient access to safe and effective medication.

As the country's legal system continues to grapple with the regulations surrounding abortion, the actions of CVS and Walgreens emerge as a definitive gesture towards increasing the accessibility of reproductive healthcare. The Supreme Court's pending decision later this month, which follows a case filed by the Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine, could dictate future pathways for the dispensation of mifepristone, making this advancement by the major pharmacy chains all the more critical. With over two decades of use, mifepristone's established role in both abortion and miscarriage management amplifies the implications of retail availability during an era of heightened political and judicial scrutiny of reproductive rights.