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    Senate Democrats urge Walmart, Costco, Albertsons and Kroger to sell abortion pill mifepristone

    In this 2018 photo, mifepristone and misoprostol pills are provided at a Carafem clinic for medication abortions in Skokie, Illinois.

    Erin Hooley | Tribune News Service | Getty Images

    Senate Democrats called on Walmart, Costco, Albertsons and Kroger to sell the prescription abortion pill mifepristone and clearly let customers know how to get it at their pharmacies.

    The companies have not publicly stated yet whether they plan to sell mifepristone at their pharmacies. The Food and Drug Administration in January allowed retail drugstores to sell the abortion pill so long as they become certified under a federal program that monitors how the medication is dispensed.

    The 17 senators told Walmart CEO Doug McMillon, Costco CEO Craig Jelinek, Albertsons CEO Vivek Sankaran and Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen that they are frustrated the companies have not yet publicly indicated whether they will sell mifepristone. In letters dated Monday, but released to the public Tuesday, they asked the CEOs to respond by March 21 on whether they plan to get certified with the FDA to dispense the medication.

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    Walgreens under fire

    Walgreens, CVS and Rite Aid said in January that they plan to get certified with the FDA to sell mifepristone in states where it is legal to do so. Republican attorneys general in 21 states warned the Walgreens and CVS in early February to not mail mifepristone in their states.

    Walgreens has come under fire after it told the GOP attorneys general that it would not sell mifepristone in their states. The drugstore’s response sparked controversy because the company is also not selling the medication in states such as Kansas, where abortion is protected under the state constitution. A state court blocked a law in November that required patients to take mifepristone in the same room as a doctor.

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    The senators accused Walgreens CEO Roz Brewer of yielding to pressure from the attorneys general and accused the company of creating confusion by not selling mifepristone in some states where abortion remains legal.

    “While we are well aware of threatening letters you received with regard to the distribution of mifepristone in certain states, the response to those pressures was unacceptable and appeared to yield to these threats — ignoring the critical need to ensure patients can get this essential health care wherever possible,” the senators wrote.

    The senators also asked CVS Health CEO Karen Lynch and Rite Aid CEO Elizabeth Burr against following Walgreens lead, urging them to “fully assess the laws in each state and ensure your policies provide the strongest possible legal access to this essential health care.”

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