AG James recalls CVS and Walgreens that New York Denial
Access to reproductive health care services is illegal in New York
NEW YORK – New York Attorney General Letitia James took action to protect New Yorkers’ access to prescriptions and reproductive health care 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 drugs or over-the-counter products or products related to reproductive health care.
“Pharmacies have a responsibility to protect the health of New Yorkers, including providing medications and reproductive health care products,” said Attorney General James. “Actions taken by some CVS and Walgreens employees in other states have sparked concerns nationwide and 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 the reproductive rights of New Yorkers and will always fight to maintain 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 are eligible 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 harassing, shaming, and publicly 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 public health laws and civil rights of New York.
Attorney General James is asking CVS and Walgreens to provide more information about their refusal policies, which Walgreens has stated allow pharmacists to walk away from filling a prescription to which they have a moral objection. It appears that the policy may, in practice, infringe on 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 “on time” in filling a prescription or completing a sales transaction when there has been a refusal.
- Company training regarding refusals and related policies.
- All documents related to whether CVS and Walgreens follow up on denials and/or whether these prescriptions and over-the-counter sales are filled and/or completed in a timely manner.
- All complaints related to 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 access to reproductive health care. In June, Attorney General James called on Google to correct search results that directed individuals seeking abortions to dangerous and fraudulent anti-abortion clinics in New York. Last week, the Attorney General praised the fact that after her letter, Google solved this problem and improved the search results. In May, Attorney General James supported state legislation to create a state program to provide financial resources to abortion providers in New York and called for a New York State Constitutional Amendment guaranteeing 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 advocates 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, call (212) 899-5567. For more information, go to https://ag.ny.gov/reproductivehealth
This case is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Jason L. Meizlish of the Bureau for Fraud and Consumer Protection and Assistant Attorney General Nancy Trasande of the Bureau for Civil Rights. The Bureau of Fraud and Consumer Protection is led by Bureau Chief Jane M. Azia and Deputy Bureau Chief Laura J. Levine and is part of the Economic Justice Division, which is headed by Deputy Attorney General Chris D’Angelo. The Civil Rights Bureau is headed by Deputy Chief Travis England and is part of the Social Justice Division, which is headed by Deputy Attorney General Meghan Faux. Both the Economic Justice Division and the Social Justice Division are overseen by First Deputy Attorney General Jennifer Levy.