NASHVILLE (BP) – The Southern Baptist Convention’s ethics entity has urged the country’s two largest pharmacy chains to alter their policies regarding their intention to dispense abortion pills.
Brent Leatherwood, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), encouraged the chief executive officers of CVS and Walgreens in a Jan. 6 letter to reverse course on their decision to carry and dispense mifepristone, the first drug in a two-step process commonly referred to as medical or chemical abortion. If they do not, he asked the executives to accommodate the consciences of their pharmacists who object to filling prescriptions for the abortion pill.
CVS and Walgreens decided to provide mifepristone in states where they can do so legally after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) changed its rules Jan. 3 to permit sale of the abortion drug by retail pharmacies, it was widely reported.
The FDA’s barrier-breaking action is the latest in a series of steps taken by President Biden and his administration in an effort to offset the effect of the Supreme Court’s reversal of the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling. In June 2022, the high court returned abortion policy to the states by overturning Roe, which legalized abortion throughout the country.
In his letter, Leatherwood urged CVS CEO Karen Lynch and Walgreens CEO Rosalind Brewer not to carry out their decisions to dispense mifepristone because of its “deadly consequences for preborn children” and potentially “harmful side effects for mothers.”
“It has long been the view that pharmacies exist to provide medication that improves health and extends life,” he wrote. “Dispensing these pills does the exact opposite.”
If CVS and Walgreens move forward with their plans, Leatherwood asked the CEOs “to respect, and reasonably accommodate, the consciences of your pharmacists – Baptists and other people of faith – who are opposed to filling a prescription” for an abortion because of their belief in the “value and dignity of the preborn and their mothers.”
A clear policy that “respects deeply held beliefs about the preciousness of life and honors individual consciences that believe abortion is a moral evil” would be welcomed “in a corporate world often solely driven by maximizing profits, with little regard for the personal views of employees,” he wrote.
Leatherwood told Lynch and Brewer the ERLC is prepared to provide advice regarding conscience-protection policies.
CVS and Walgreens, as well as other pharmacies that intend to dispense mifepristone, must be certified to carry the drug. Baptist Press asked two other large pharmacy chains – Rite Aid and Walmart – whether they would dispense mifepristone but did not receive replies before deadline for this article.
Mifepristone, often known as RU 486 and authorized by the FDA under President Clinton in 2000, causes the lining of the uterus to release the embryonic child, resulting in his or her death. It is approved for use in the first 10 weeks of gestation. Misoprostol, a drug approved by the FDA to treat ulcers, is typically taken one to two days later and causes the uterus to contract, expelling the body.