New York Attorney General Letitia James sent out letters this week to CVS and Walgreens, cautioning the pharmacy giants that it is illegal in the Empire State to deny customers reproductive health products.

The warnings come in response to recent news reports that employees at Walgreens stores elsewhere in the country have delayed or refused reproductive services such as refilling a birth control prescription or selling condoms because of their religious beliefs.

While the AG’s office has not seen this happen yet in New York, reports of such incidents in other states have gone viral on social media, sparked calls to boycott Walgreens and raised questions about Walgreens’ and CVS’ policies on this type of employee conduct.

Walgreens stated in a 2018 tweet that it allows individual employees to “step away from filling a prescription for which they have a moral objection.” It added that “they are required to refer the prescription to another pharmacist or manager on duty to meet the patient’s needs in a timely manner.”

In a statement to Gothamist, Walgreens spokesperson Fraser Engerman said that there are “rare instances” when an employee accommodation has to be made. “Even then, the employee must apply for a specific exemption, which is reviewed and approved by management through a formal process based on our policies set by law, and is never solely at the discretion of the team member,” Engerman said.

CVS has a similar policy.

“Under federal law, we must reasonably accommodate a religious conviction that may prevent a pharmacist or pharmacy technician from dispensing specific medications,” Mike DeAngelis, a spokesperson for CVS Health, said in a statement to Gothamist.

DeAngelis added that some states also have laws requiring reasonable accommodations for moral or ethical convictions. “In such instances, employees are required to notify us in advance about such a conviction, so that if the accommodation is granted we can make other arrangements to ensure the patient’s needs are promptly satisfied,” he said.

A spokesperson for the New York attorney general’s office confirmed to Gothamist that it has not received reports of reproductive health services being denied or delayed here, but said the letters were sent to warn against such activity.

“Pharmacies have a responsibility to safeguard New Yorkers’ health, including by providing reproductive health care medications and products,” James said in a statement. “The actions taken by some CVS and Walgreens employees in other states have sparked concerns nationwide and have raised serious questions that must be addressed."

In the letters sent to each pharmacy chain Monday, James asked for more information on their policies and training related to employees’ religious beliefs and reproductive care. Among other things, she is seeking clarification on what they consider “timely” when it comes to completing a transaction.

DeAngelis of CVS said the company is still reviewing the letter. He said CVS’ “highest priority is ensuring safe and timely access to medications for patients” and added the chain has policies in place to ensure patients are not denied access to prescription medications based on the individual beliefs of employees.