The governor of California said on Wednesday that he would not renew a multimillion-dollar contract with Walgreens, after the pharmacy chain announced that it would stop selling an abortion pill in 21 states that had threatened legal action.
The governor, Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, said he had directed the California Department of General Services to notify Walgreens that it would withdraw a planned renewal of the contract that was supposed to take effect on May 1. He said the state had paid Walgreens $54 million over the life of the contract, which allowed it to get specialty prescription drugs that were mostly used by the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
“California will not stand by as corporations cave to extremists and cut off critical access to reproductive care and freedom,” Mr. Newsom said in a statement.
Walgreens has found itself in the middle of the intense political and legal debate over abortion rights since the Supreme Court last year overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that established a federal constitutional right to abortion. After Republican attorneys general in 21 states threatened legal action against pharmacy chains that sold the abortion pill mifepristone, Walgreens said it would no longer distribute the drug in those states.
The pharmacy chain’s decision was met with instant backlash from some customers and politicians in Democratic-led states. Mr. Newsom said on Monday that California would stop doing business with Walgreens and that he had ordered a review of all of the state’s contracts with the company.
A spokesperson for Walgreens did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday. A spokesman previously told The New York Times that Walgreens had decided before the legal threats that it would dispense mifepristone only where state laws allowed pharmacists to do so.