AG James reminds CVS and Walgreens that denying New Yorkers access to reproductive healthcare services is illegal in NY

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — New York Attorney General Leticia James took action to protect New Yorkers’ access to reproductive health care prescriptions and products at CVS and Walgreens pharmacies on Tuesday.

Employees at CVS and Walgreens stores in other states have reportedly refused to provide customers with birth control, condoms, emergency contraceptives, and other medications related to reproductive health.

Attorney General James sent letters to both CVS and Walgreens reminding the retail pharmacy giants that it is illegal in New York to deny customers prescribed or over-the-counter medications or products related to reproductive health care.

“Pharmacies have a responsibility to safeguard New Yorkers’ health, including by providing reproductive health care medications and products,” said Attorney General James. “The actions taken by some CVS and Walgreens employees in other states have sparked concerns nationwide and have raised serious questions that must be addressed. Let me be clear: I will not accept New Yorkers being denied access to essential health care products and services. I am proud to stand up for New Yorkers’ reproductive rights, and I will always fight to preserve access to birth control and other reproductive health medications and options.” 

Attorney General James has requested more information about their refusal policies, which Walgreens has stated allows pharmacists to step away from filing a prescription for which they have a moral objection. She says that the policy, in practice, may infringe upon New Yorkers’ rights.

Attorney General James is also requesting that Walgreens and CVS provide more information about:

• The amount of time that CVS and Walgreens consider “timely” in fulfilling a prescription or completing a sales transaction where there has been a refusal.
• Companies’ training regarding refusals and related policies.
• All documents concerning whether CVS and Walgreens track refusals and/or whether such prescriptions and over-the-counter sales have been filled and/or completed in a “timely” manner.
• All complaints concerning CVS and Walgreens refusals at New York locations for the past six years.

Attorney General James also recently launched a pro bono legal hotline to provide legal guidance and resources to patients, health care providers, and supporters seeking information about their legal rights to access and provide abortions. The free hotline can be accessed at (212) 899-5567. For more information, click here.