California won't renew $54M contract with Walgreens over abortion pill stance

California Gov. Gavin Newsom is delivering on his word to cut ties with Walgreens over the drugstore chain's stance on distributing abortion pills.

On Wednesday, California officials announced the Golden State won't renew its $54 million contract with Walgreens because the company said it won't dispense the abortion medication, mifepristone in 20 states. 

"California will not stand by as corporations cave to extremists and cut off critical access to reproductive care and freedom," said Newsom. "California is on track to be the fourth-largest economy in the world, and we will leverage our market power to defend the right to choose."

The contract allows the state to procure specialty prescription drugs that are primarily used by California prisons and jails.

The renewal was set to take effect on May 1, 2023. In the meantime, the state said it's exploring other options.

On Monday, Newsom slammed Walgreens on social media and preemptively warned that it was severing ties with the company.

"California won't be doing business with @walgreens – or any company that cowers to the extremists and puts women's lives at risk. We're done," Newsom tweeted in response to an article from CNN.

Earlier this year, the FDA loosened restrictions by allowing pharmacies like Walgreens to dispense the drug mifepristone after obtaining certification. To get certified, pharmacies must meet standards for shipping, tracking and confidentially storing prescription information.

"From the outset, we have made our intentions clear to become a certified pharmacy to distribute mifepristone in those jurisdictions where it is legal," said Walgreens in a statement to KTVU.

Typically, the FDA’s authority to regulate prescription drug access has gone unchallenged. But more than a dozen states now have laws restricting abortion broadly — and the pills specifically — following last year’s Supreme Court decision overturning the federal right to abortion.

Last month, attorneys general in 20 conservative-led states warned CVS and Walgreens in a letter that they could face legal consequences if they sell abortion pills by mail in their states.

In addition to state laws, attorneys general from conservative states have argued that shipments of mifepristone run afoul of a 19th-century law that prohibited sending items used in abortion through the mail.

In response to the letter, Walgreens told officials in those GOP-led states that it would not dispense abortion pills by mail or at locations in those states, as first reported by Politico.

The company is not currently dispensing the pills anywhere.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.