Gavin Newsom said he doesn’t plan to run for president in 2024, but the California governor already seems to think he can dictate policy in the other 49 states. He considers his decision this week to punish Walgreens for complying with other state abortion laws.
“California will not do business with @walgreens, or any company that cringes at extremists and puts women’s lives at risk,” Newsom tweeted Monday. Walgreens does not bow to extremists. He is trying to navigate a complicated legal and political thicket after the Supreme Court decision. Dobbs last summer’s decision returned abortion regulation to the states.
At issue is the drug mifepristone, which is approved by the Food and Drug Administration to induce abortions during the first 10 weeks of pregnancy. In January, the FDA eased its regulations to allow patients to get the drug directly from pharmacies instead of health care providers. Pharmacies will have to be specially certified to dispense the medication.
In other words, Walgreens and other retail pharmacies weren’t even allowed until recently to dispense the drug under federal regulation. Now states where abortion is restricted after theDobbs they argue that doctors cannot prescribe and pharmacies cannot dispense the medicine according to their laws. Many states also maintain stricter regulations on its dispensing than the FDA allows.
Walgreens drew fury from the abortion left last week when it said it would not distribute the drug in some 20 states out of legal precaution. This includes several states where abortion is legal, but retail pharmacies are unable to dispense the medication directly to patients. Pharmacists who violate state laws can be punished with imprisonment.
Enter Mr. Newsom, who on Monday vowed to ban Walgreens from doing business with the state, including potentially its vast Medicaid business, unless it violates other state abortion laws. Walgreens responded that it “plans to dispense mifepristone in any jurisdiction where it is legally permitted to do so” and “in accordance with federal and state law.” It’s not good enough for Mr. Newsom.
On Wednesday, California notified Walgreens that it was withdrawing a contract renewal for its prison system. Liberals are comparing Mr. Newsom’s retaliation against Walgreens to that of the Governor of Florida. Ron DeSantis’ Renewed State Tax and Regulatory Liens for Disney.
But unlike Disney, Walgreens has no special government privileges from the state and hasn’t gotten into a culture war. He was dragged into one.
Businesses become targets when they take positions on political issues, but they don’t deserve to be targeted for trying to comply with state and federal laws. This distinction is lost on Mr. Newsom, who wants to impose California values on the rest of the United States. He also banned state employee travel to states with religious freedom protections.
Perhaps he hopes bully companies and other states will distract attention from California’s problems. It’s no wonder so many businesses are leaving the state.
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It appeared in the March 11, 2023 print issue as ‘President Newsom Strikes Again’.