Democrats Tell Pharmacies: Refusal to Stock Abortion Pill Is ‘Unacceptable’
Dozens of Democratic members of Congress sent a letter Thursday pressuring Walmart, Kroger, Costco, Safeway and Health Mart to carry the abortion pill mifepristone, stating their caution in not yet becoming federally certified to distribute the life-taking drug is “unacceptable.”
“Your pharmacies have been able to start the certification process since January but have not done so, despite letters from numerous governors and senators inquiring about your failure to do so,” wrote more than 50 Democratic members of the House of Representatives Thursday. “Your companies have a responsibility to consumers and communities to address this issue as soon as possible.”
Mifepristone, with misoprostol, forms the two-drug regimen that causes a chemical abortion. Mifepristone deprives the unborn child of nutrition by preventing the release of progesterone, thins the uterine wall, and detaches an implanted child from the womb. The second pill, misoprostol, induces contractions to crush and expel the deceased child’s body through the birth canal.
“Mifepristone, in combination with misoprostol, remains the gold standard for medication abortion,” wrote the congressmen. “[A]n abundance of evidence has unequivocally established that medication abortion is safe,” the letter stated, claiming mifepristone is “safer than Tylenol,” a common refrain.
Yet the abortion pill produces four times the level of harmful side effects for women who ingest them. Between 2000 and 2021, the FDA documented 4,207 adverse events from mifepristone use — including 26 deaths, 1,045 hospitalizations, 603 events requiring a blood transfusion, and 413 infections. The number is artificially low, critics say, because in 2016 the Obama-Biden administration required only deaths caused by chemical abortion to be reported to the FDA’s Adverse Events Reporting System (FAERS), erasing women’s physical suffering from the record.
One out of every five women who takes mifepristone experiences negative physical health consequences, a study of 42,000 abortions found.
The abortion pill manufacturer tells women to expect bleeding for up to a month. The medication guide for Mifeprex, tells abortive mothers, “Cramping and vaginal bleeding are expected” for “an average of 9 to 16 days and may last for up to 30 days. … You may see blood clots and tissue. This is an expected part of passing the” unborn child.
Many women report seeing their fully formed unborn child’s body before flushing him or her down the toilet.
Women who take the abortion pill also experience worsened mental health, surveys show. One-third of women subjected to a chemical abortion “reported an adverse change,” including “depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and thoughts of suicide,” according to a rigorous study of post-abortive women conducted by Support After Abortion.
Despite the negative impact on women’s health, January, Biden’s FDA lowered the health and safety standards protecting pregnant women — known as Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategies (REMS) — to allow retail pharmacies to sell abortion pills after going through a federal certification process that includes keeping the name of the abortionist who prescribed the pill secret.
Pharmaceutical giants CVS and Walgreens immediately announced they would carry the pills, a move that will “transform pharmacies from centers of healing into centers of death,” said Mary Szoch, director of the Center for Human Dignity at Family Research Council.
This week’s letter pressed other pharmaceutical chains to follow suit.
“Your continued silence is unacceptable,” wrote the coalition of Democrats, “as it is misaligned with your publicly stated values in support of equal access to health care and of gender equality.” They demanded the pharmacies detail their “plan, if any, to support access to medication abortion by becoming certified to dispense mifepristone,” by next Friday, June 23.
The letter was spearheaded by Reps. Judy Chu (D-Calif.) and Dan Goldman (D-N.Y.). Prominent signatories include Reps. Rashia Tlaib (D-Mich.), Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Pramila Jayapal (D-Calif.), and Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.).
The latest missive follows a series of letters written to those pharmaceutical chains and others in March by 17 U.S. senators expressing “great frustration” they had not yet agreed to become chemical abortion pill merchants. Separately, the pharmacies received a separate letter from Democratic governors in 14 states: California, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Washington, and Wisconsin.
The letters comes at a particularly vulnerable time for Kroger, which faces a ruling from the Biden administration’s Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over whether its impending merger deal with Albertsons violates antitrust laws. Senate Democrats, some of whom would pressure the company to carry mifepristone, held hearings on the issue last October.
Pharmacies that agreed to sell the abortion pills did not escape the wrath of Democratic politicians aiming to expand abortion nationwide. In March, California Governor Gavin Newsom (D) threatened to end all state contracts with Walgreens if it refused to carry abortion pills in all 50 states, including the 20 states where attorneys general say distribution would violate pro-life state laws and the federal Comstock Act. Newsom backed down within days.
Expanding the distribution of abortion pills, which account for the majority of abortions nationwide, has become a pillar of the Democratic Party’s coping strategy after Dobbs. Last July, the Biden administration’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) sent a guidance to 60,000 pharmacies threatening to take legal “corrective action” against anyone who refuses to dispense abortion-inducing drug mifepristone to “pregnant people” and explain “how to take” it. Two days after Christmas 2022, Biden’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) issued an opinion that pharmacies may mail or ship abortion pills to pro-life states, a move many legal analysts believe violates federal law.
Yet the administration faced a setback in April, when U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk ruled that the FDA’s approval of mifepristone had been politicized during the waning days of the Clinton presidency and revoked the order, which would effectively remove the abortion pill from the market. The lawsuit was backed by 67 Republican members of Congress and 22 state attorneys general.
In February, Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) advised the Biden administration to “ignore the ruling and keep this life-saving drug on the market.”
The Biden administration has appealed the ruling. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals is expected to issue a ruling shortly.
Correction (6/20/23): This article previously stated that Rep. Nancy Pelosi retired from Congress in 2022. She is still an active member of the House minority.
Ben Johnson is senior reporter and editor at The Washington Stand.