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Cal Thomas: Walgreens swallows a bitter pill

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WORLD Radio - Cal Thomas: Walgreens swallows a bitter pill

The pharmacy giant’s step into the battle over abortion will drive customers away from both sides


California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks in Sacramento, Calif., Jan. 10, 2023. On Wednesday, March 8, 2023, Newsom announced he would not renew a state contract with Walgreens after the company indicated it would not sell abortion pills in some conservative-led states. (AP Photo/José Luis Villegas, File)

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Thursday, March 16th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.

MYRNA BROWN, HOST: And I’m Myrna Brown. Next up, World commentator Cal Thomas on the latest battleground over abortion: pharmacies.

CAL THOMAS, COMMENTATOR: California Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom recently announced the state will not do business with the Walgreens store chain “or any company that cowers to the extremists and puts women’s lives at risk.” Notice the familiar buzzwords–extremists and putting women’s lives at risk.

Newsom’s statement followed an announcement by Walgreens that its pharmacies won’t dispense the Mifepristone abortion pill in states where abortion is illegal. They also won’t dispense it in several other states where there are minimal or no restrictions, including Alaska, Iowa, Montana, and Kansas because of the “complexity and flux of the laws.”

One might wish the chain had taken a more principled stand. They might have asked, “Isn’t the killing of more than 60 million babies too many?” Or, “what about the women who have been scarred – physically, emotionally and spiritually – by abortion?” Even so, the Walgreens statement sounds good for now, so far as it goes. “For how long?” is the question, as pressure to provide the drug nationwide is likely to increase.

In January, the FDA began allowing pharmacies and mail-in services to distribute mifepristone without medical supervision. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and Rep. Andrew Clyde of Georgia have written the Government Accountability Office arguing the FDAs new guidance about the drug may constitute a “rule”. It would then be subject to Congressional review under the Congressional Review Act. The two Republican lawmakers say in their letter, “The FDA did not submit this policy to Congress and we believe it is imperative that all agency rules remain subject to the full spectrum of congressional oversight afforded by law.”

When I was growing up in the Washington, D.C., area, if anyone wanted a product related to sex, such as condoms, one had to approach the pharmacy counter and request them. Usually this required teenage boys to speak to a woman who could be relied on to offer a disapproving glance. She might have known our parents. These experiences kept many from out-of-wedlock pregnancy, abortion, and STDs.

But today, many in our “anything goes” culture demand that pharmacists support abortion. Gov. Newsom seeks to use the power of his state to force Walgreens to comply with a point of view many do not share.

It reminds me of the pressure and subsequent boycott by gay activist groups against Chick-fil-A restaurants. Christian and conservative organizations urged people to show up on a certain day and buy chicken sandwiches. They did in droves, and the boycott backfired. Supporting Walgreens pharmacies that don’t dispense the abortion pill would send a similar message to management.

There are other issues surrounding the abortion pill. Suppose a pharmacy employee is pro-life and as a matter of religious faith believes abortion to be the taking of innocent life? Will that employee be excused from dispensing the pill and his or her job protected?

While it is increasingly difficult to launch successful boycotts against large companies, pro-lifers can take their business to independent pharmacies and Walgreens stores that don’t dispense the pill. It may not change the way most do business, but one can avoid supporting what some consider to be a modern version of child sacrifice.

I’m Cal Thomas.


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