California to halt $54 million Walgreens contract after company restricts sales of abortion drug

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“This is an attempt to call the question ‘Which side are you on? Whose side are you on?” Newsom said in an interview with POLITICO ahead of the announcement. “Are you going to just cower in the face of bullies? Are you going to just roll over?”

Walgreens will no longer provide medications to inmates in California’s sprawling correctional system as a result of the decision.

Newsom says this is just the first step in an “exhaustive review” of all of the state’s ties with Walgreens, some of which he may need to work with the state Legislature to terminate.

Walgreens has faced criticism after appearing to both commit to distributing the abortion drug Mifepristone in states where it is allowed while saying it would provide it in Republican-controlled states.

Newsom said he was nixing the contract in part because the company could not provide clear answers.

“They were unwilling or incapable of doing anything more than repeating a statement that only reinforces the ambiguity,” Newsom said. “That made me conclude they’re not serious about this, and we are.”

Newsom’s move also demonstrates his willingness to wield California’s financial might in an intensifying national battle over abortion access. The governor and legislative Democrats have already allocated hundreds of millions of dollars and enacted new laws to make California a sanctuary for abortion-seekers from other states.

“Ironically, we’re the size of 21 states’ populations combined,” Newsom said, referencing the 21 states where Walgreens has told GOP state officials that they do not plan to dispense the pills. “And likely, when the dust settles, we’ll be the fourth largest economy in the world. So, we have, we believe, moral authority, but we also have formal authority and will exercise it in partnership with the Legislature, and in the absence of that, through executive action.”

States have been on the frontlines of abortion policy struggles after the U.S. Supreme Court ended the federal right to the procedure. While California responded by aggressively expanding abortion access, Republican states have sharply restricted it.

Florida lawmakers this week introduced a bill that would ban abortions after six weeks. As national Democrats rebuked the proposal, California Attorney General Rob Bonta told Floridians repulsed by the “despicable” bill they would be “welcome in California.”

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( With inputs from : )

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