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As anti-abortion activists continue to roll back access to the lifesaving procedure, the two biggest pharmacy chains in the United States plan to start selling the abortion pill mifepristone.

Both CVS and Walgreens confirmed to the New York Times that they've been certified under new Food and Drug Administration guidelines, issued last year, to begin dispensing the medication.

Within the next week, CVS and Walgreens locations in the states of California, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, and Pennsylvania will begin selling mifepristone with a prescription. Within the next few months, as representatives for both chains told the NYT, they will begin rolling it out in the other states where abortion is legal and where pharmacies can fill mifepristone prescriptions, which accounts for about half the total states in the country.

This move comes more than a year after the FDA approved mifepristone to be sold at pharmacies with prescriptions, but only did so with certification based on a stringent set of rules. Still, pharmacies had to apply for certification from the agency, and until this announcement from CVS and Walgreens, only a handful of independent retailers had been granted certification to do so.

While this is a huge step in expanding abortion access, the fact remains that in the states where people can get mifepristone, there are far fewer barriers to getting the procedure than in the other half of the country where it has either partially or entirely been banned since the fall of Roe v. Wade in June 2022.

However, neither CVS nor Walgreens will be shipping the medication, which for people living in the parts of the country where abortion is all but impossible to access is a critical lifeline.

In a statement responding to the news, President Joe Biden called the move an "important milestone" and said that he would "continue to fight to ensure that women can get the health care they need... and to restore the protections of Roe v. Wade in federal law" — though he didn't expound on how he plans to do so while also campaigning for reelection.

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