Attorney General James Acts to Protect Access to Reproductive Health Care at Major New York Pharmacies
AG James Reminds CVS and Walgreens that Denying New Yorkers
Access to Reproductive Healthcare Services is Illegal in New York
NEW YORK – New York Attorney General Letitia James took action to protect New Yorkers’ access to reproductive health care prescriptions and products at CVS and Walgreens pharmacies. Employees at CVS and Walgreens stores in other states have reportedly refused to provide customers with birth control, condoms, emergency contraceptives, and/or 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.”
New Yorkers seeking contraception or other reproductive health products at these two major chains have a right to receive those essential products. Reports from other states indicate that some employees at CVS and at Walgreens have refused to provide reproductive health products or services, and some Walgreens employees have even mistreated consumers by publicly harassing, embarrassing, and shaming them. In her letters, Attorney General James makes clear that similar behavior by CVS or Walgreens employees at any of their more than 1,000 locations throughout New York state is a violation of New York’s public health and civil rights laws.
Attorney General James requests that CVS and Walgreens provide 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. It appears 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 has been a leader in the fight to protect abortion rights and reproductive health care access. In June, Attorney General James called on Google to correct search results that directed individuals seeking abortions to dangerous and misleading anti-abortion clinics in New York. This past week, the Attorney General lauded the fact that following her letter, Google fixed this problem and improved their search results. In May, Attorney General James supported state legislation to establish a state program to provide financial resources to abortion providers in New York and called for a New York state Constitutional Amendment ensuring the right to an abortion.
Attorney General James 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 hotline is free and available in the 12 most common languages spoken in New York. To access the hotline, dial (212) 899-5567. For more information, go to https://ag.ny.gov/reproductivehealth
This matter is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Jason L. Meizlish of the Consumer Frauds and Protection Bureau and Assistant Attorney General Nancy Trasande of the Civil Rights Bureau. The Consumer Frauds and Protection Bureau is led by Bureau Chief Jane M. Azia and Deputy Bureau Chief Laura J. Levine and is a part of the Division for Economic Justice, which is led by Chief Deputy Attorney General Chris D’Angelo. The Civil Rights Bureau is led by Deputy Bureau Chief Travis England and is a part of the Division for Social Justice, which is led by Chief Deputy Attorney General Meghan Faux. Both the Division for Economic Justice and the Division for Social Justice are overseen by First Deputy Attorney General Jennifer Levy.