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October 30, 2005

Pharmacists and emergency contraception

The religious right—spreading Christian compassion, one rape victim at a time:

More than 70 students, community members, and local politicians held a demonstration outside of Fry’s Food and Drug Store in Tucson, Arizona, yesterday to protest its refusal to fill a rape survivor’s prescription for emergency contraception (EC). The 20-year-old unnamed woman and a friend told the Arizona Daily Star that they tried calling “nearly 50” pharmacies before they found one that stocked EC, but then the Fry’s pharmacist on duty by the time they could get there would not fill the prescription on so-called religious and moral grounds.
“I was so shocked,” the unnamed woman told the Star. “I just did not understand how they could legally refuse to do this … I just don’t think this should be the pharmacist’s decision.” The two women said that the Fry’s manager on duty said he would fill the prescription if they could get there within ten minutes before his shift ended, which was unfeasible, but offered no referral to another pharmacy, as required by Fry’s corporate policy, the Star reports.

What’s most disturbing is just how many big pharmacy chains—most recently Target, thanks to its lunatic-right CEOsupport their pharmacists in refusing to fill prescriptions on “moral” grounds:

In allowing its workers to deny birth control – including emergency contraceptives – to women seeking to prevent pregnancy, Target joins four other national chains. According to a Planned Parenthood report, Walgreens, Wal-Mart, Rite Aid and Winn Dixie also permit pharmacists to decline prescribing the drug.

Not to mention hospitals:

According to a study published this spring in the Annals of Emergency Medicine, 55 percent of Catholic and 42 percent of non-Catholic hospitals do not make emergency contraception available in the emergency department, even in cases of rape or incest.

Fortunately, there are plenty of pharmacies that forbid wingnuts from aiding and abetting rapists, including Brooks/Eckerd, Kmart, CVS, Costco, Fagen’s, Harris Teeter, Super Valu and Price Chopper—although not all their drugstores will actually stock emergency contraception, as the Tucson rape victim discovered.

Even more fortunately, as I’ve written before, America’s drugstore pharmacists are a dying breed:

To cut costs, more and more U.S. healthcare providers are requiring patients to have routine prescriptions (i.e., like contraceptives and drugs used to treat chronic pain) filled via large mail-order drug dispensers such as Medco. Many federally and state-funded healthcare programs will, for the most part, go mail-order too.

This won’t solve the problem of filling one-off prescriptions such as morning-after birth control—for that, patient-rights groups will have to resort to the courts. But it will make drugstore pharmacists increasingly dispensable—and the religious right are going to find it much harder to infiltrate companies like Medco than the local Walgreens.

Posted by Stephen at 12:45 AM in Health | Legal issues | Religion + cults | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

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Comments

The protest should've been conducted INSIDE the pharmacy, by about ten women, each with a valid EC prescription. Keep re-entering the prescription line at the pharmacy until each valid prescription has been filled or the pharmacy runs out. Keep on doing this until the policy changes.

Picket lines outside the pharmacy make 'em feel like martyrs. Picket lines INSIDE the pharmacy make 'em feel like paupers.

Posted by: Randomfactor at November 7, 2005 12:56 PM

As a Christian Scientist pharmacist I am committed to the healing power of prayer. Consequently, I will only fill a prescription for someone who has previously sought healing via the grace of God through prayer. You should also know that I would never violate the will of the Lord. So if a Target guest did present herself sweating blood from the effort of unanswered prayer like Jesus at Gethsemane, I would honor the revealed will of the Almighty and refuse to fill that prescription. Cheers.

Posted by: Hammer at November 1, 2005 4:06 PM