Alabama pharmacists move to protect medication used to treat ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage

By Sarah Swetlik 

Since the U.S. Supreme Court issued the Dobbs ruling overturning landmark case Roe v. Wade in June 2022, Alabamians have struggled with confusing policies relating to reproductive health, including threats of prosecution.

In January, the Alabama State Board of Pharmacy established a policy for physicians, allowing them to treat pregnancy complications as needed with proper medical documentation.

According to the policy, pharmacists may fill prescriptions to treat ectopic pregnancies, miscarriages and other non-abortion-inducing treatments.

“It is the Board’s position that a pharmacist may fill medications for patients to treat ectopic pregnancies, miscarriages or other non-abortifacient treatments,” the policy read. “There should be a proper and well-documented diagnosis from the physician to validate the medical necessity of the medications, and in doing so would not present implications for regulatory action. This policy does not address what may be any civil or criminal liability imposed upon a pharmacist.”

The minutes from the board meeting have not been released yet, and the board did not provide any additional comments to AL.com.

Alabama has strict abortion restrictions. Attorney General Steve Marshall has been vocal about his disapproval of access to medications like mifepristone and misoprostol, which are used to induce roughly half of U.S. abortions, at the federal level.

Some of the same medications are used to manage first-trimester miscarriages, as well as unrelated issues such as stomach ulcers, arthritis and lupus.

In 2022, federal officials clarified that pharmacists should be able to provide mifepristone and misoprostol to anyone with prescription. Refusal to provide prescribed drugs might constitute discrimination on the basis of sex or disability, they added.

Marshall also has warned about potential prosecution of people who help someone travel across state lines to receive an abortion, or who help pregnant patients take medications to end pregnancy. The attorney general’s office later clarified that his “beef is with illegal providers, not women.”