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Connecticut lawmakers introduce bill to ensure access to abortion pills

Walgreens recently announced it would not distribute abortion pills in certain states.

HARTFORD, Conn. — State lawmakers are taking action after Walgreens announced earlier this month it would not distribute abortion pills in 20 states.

Walgreens’ actions are in response to letters from Republican state attorneys general threatening the company with legal action.

“The idea that pharmaceutical companies would suddenly stop distributing these vital life-saving medicines because some politicians wrote a letter is just stunning,” said state Sen. Mae Flexer, (D-Brooklyn) at a press conference Wednesday.

Connecticut was not one of the states where Walgreens said it would not sell the drug mifepristone, but many state Democrats are saying just because it hasn’t happened in Connecticut yet, doesn’t mean it couldn't happen here in the future.

“If these companies are so cowardly and feckless that they will immediately surrender to a baseless legal threat and a letter from these politicians, what will happen when that letter demands that they stop providing this drug here in Connecticut,” questioned state Rep. Matt Blumenthal, (D-Stamford).

Right now, mifepristone is still legal in all U.S. states. 

It’s commonly used in tandem with another drug, misoprostol, to end a pregnancy. Medication abortions account for more than half of all abortions in the country. 

The pill also is used in other ways, like easing miscarriages and even treating Cushing's syndrome. 

“It's incredibly disappointing for any company to play politics with women's lives,” state Rep. Jillian Gilchrest, (D-West Hartford) said.

Democratic lawmakers introduced a new bill this month to ban state contracts with or payments to any business that has a policy of declining to dispense reproductive healthcare medication. 

Essentially, the state wouldn’t work with companies that stop distributing medications, like abortion pills, in any state, not just Connecticut. 

Republicans call this measure “scare tactics.” 

“This is some pretty darn political stuff here,” said state Sen. Rob Sampson, (R-Wolcott) during a committee meeting on the bill. “Let me tell you, this is somewhat shocking to me.” 

“The bill introduced by Democrats is focused on actions that are occurring in other states, not Connecticut,” wrote state Rep. Gale Mastrofrancesco, (R-Southington) in a statement. “Once again, the Democrats are creating policy for a problem that does not exist in Connecticut.” 

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Democrats argue they’re making a point. 

“Every other company in this field will hear the message loud and clear that states like Connecticut will stand up strongly for patients not only within our borders but across the country where we can,” Blumenthal continued.

This bill already advanced, passing out of committee Monday along party lines. It now heads to the House floor for debate.

Emma Wulfhorst is a political reporter for FOX61 News. She can be reached at ewulfhorst@fox61.com. Follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.


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