Attorney General James protects access to reproductive health care at major New York pharmacies

AG James Reminds CVS and Walgreens to Deny New Yorkers
Access to reproductive health services is illegal in New York

NEW YORK — New York Attorney General Letitia James has taken action to protect New Yorkers’ access to prescriptions and reproductive health products at CVS and Walgreens pharmacies. Employees at CVS and Walgreens stores in other states have reportedly refused to offer customers birth control, condoms, emergency contraception and/or other reproductive health-related medications. Attorney General James sent letters to CVS and Walgreens reminding the retail pharmacy giants that it is illegal in New York to refuse customers prescription or over-the-counter drugs or products related to reproductive health.

“Pharmacies have a responsibility to protect the health of New Yorkers, including by providing drugs and reproductive health products,” he said Attorney General James. “The actions of some CVS and Walgreens employees in other states have raised concerns across the state and raised serious issues that need to be addressed. Let me be clear: I will not accept New Yorkers being denied access to essential healthcare products and services. I am proud to stand up for the reproductive rights of New Yorkers, and I will always fight to maintain access to birth control and other reproductive health medicines and options.”

New Yorkers who seek birth control or other reproductive health products from these two major chains have a right to access these essential products. Reports from other states indicate that some CVS and Walgreens employees have refused to provide reproductive health products or services, and some Walgreens employees have even abused consumers by publicly harassing, embarrassing, and shaming them . In her letters, Attorney General James makes it clear that similar behavior by CVS or Walgreens employees at any of their more than 1,000 locations in upstate New York is a violation of New York’s public health and civil liberties laws.

Attorney General James is asking CVS and Walgreens to provide more information about their refusal policies, which Walgreens says allow pharmacists to refrain from submitting a prescription to which they have moral objections. It appears that in practice the policy may violate the rights of New Yorkers. Attorney General James is also asking Walgreens and CVS to provide more information about:

  • The amount of time that CVS and Walgreens consider “timely” to fill a prescription or complete a sale transaction when there is a rejection.
  • Educate companies on rejections and related policies.
  • All documents as to whether CVS and Walgreens are tracking denials and/or whether such prescriptions and over-the-counter sales have been filled and/or completed in a “timely” manner.
  • All complaints regarding CVS and Walgreens denials at New York locations in the past six years.

Attorney General James led the fight to protect abortion rights and access to reproductive health care. In June, Attorney General James asked Google to correct search results that redirected people seeking abortion to dangerous and deceptive anti-abortion clinics in New York. Last week, the Attorney General praised the fact that after writing her, Google fixed this issue and improved her search results. In May, Attorney General James supported state legislation establishing a state program to provide funding for abortion providers in New York and called for a New York state constitution to be amended to ensure the right to abortion.

Attorney General James recently established a toll-free legal hotline to provide legal advice and resources to patients, healthcare providers and supporters seeking information about their legal rights to access and have an abortion. The hotline is free and available in the 12 most commonly spoken languages ​​in New York. To access the hotline, dial (212) 899-5567. For more information, see 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 Bureau of Consumer Fraud and Protection is headed by Bureau Chief Jane M. Azia and Assistant Bureau Chief Laura J. Levine and is part of the Economic Justice Division headed by Assistant Attorney General Chris D’Angelo. The Civil Rights Bureau is headed by Deputy Bureau Chief Travis England and is part of the Social Justice Division headed by Assistant Attorney General Meghan Faux. Both the Economic Justice Division and the Social Justice Division are overseen by First Assistant Attorney General Jennifer Levy.

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