Walgreens will start selling abortion pill in Illinois in coming days: ‘A tragedy,’ anti-abortion group says

The drugstore will start dispensing Mifepristone at select locations within the week, officials say

FILE - Boxes of the drug mifepristone sit on a shelf at the West Alabama Women's Center in Tuscaloosa, Ala., March 16, 2022. A federal judge in Texas on Friday, April 7, 2023, ordered a hold on the U.S. approval of the abortion medication mifepristone, throwing into question access to the nation’s most common method of abortion in a ruling that waved aside decades of scientific approval. Federal lawyers representing the FDA are expected to swiftly appeal the ruling. (AP Photo/Allen G. Breed, File)

Walgreens will start dispensing the abortion pill Mifepristone at select Illinois locations within the week, officials said.

Walgreens has completed the Food and Drug Administration certification process to dispense the abortion pill, which is consistent with federal and state laws, Walgreens said in a emailed statement. “We are beginning a phased rollout in select locations to allow us to ensure quality, safety, and privacy for our patients, providers, and team members,” according to the statement, which added the Deerfield-based drugstore chain will begin dispensing the abortion pill in New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, California and Illinois starting next week.

Mifepristone is the first of a two-pill system, with the second being misoprostol, to abort a pregnancy. In 2000, the FDA approved mifepristone to terminate pregnancies of up to 10 weeks, The Associated Press reported.

Mifepristone is taken first to dilate the cervix and block the hormone progesterone, which is needed to sustain a pregnancy. Misoprostol, which the drugstore chain reportedly already sells, is taken 24 to 48 hours later, causing the uterus to contract and expel pregnancy tissue. For more than 20 years, the FDA labeling had limited dispensing to a subset of specialty offices and clinics, due to safety concerns.

Illinois Pro-Life Action League President Ann Scheidler said the move is “a tragedy.” The organization plans on staging some protests at the Walgreens headquarters, she said. “It makes your home and drugstore become an abortion clinic. It makes it much more difficult for women to choose life.”

The McHenry County chapter of National Organization for Women reproductive rights chair Mary Ewert sees the decision made by Walgreens as “good news.” Ewert, who also serves as the president for McHenry County Citizens for Choice, hopes people “keep the pressure on” to increase access to safe abortion options. “People need to make their own choices about their reproductive health care,” she said.

The U.S. Supreme Court is weighing a challenge from conservative groups who are seeking to reverse Mifepristone’s approval or roll back policies that have made it easier to obtain.

President Joe Biden issued a news release Friday stating women will be able to pick up the prescription medication at Walgreens like any other medication. “I encourage all pharmacies that want to pursue this option to seek certification,” he said in the release.

The Associated Press contributed.