Daily Mail

Boots embroiled in US abortion pills row

- By Leah Montebello

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.

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 3.5pc 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 £5bn.

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