Pharmacists Who Refuse
to Provide Services
Some women trying to fill prescriptions for emergency contraception and ordinary birth control pills have reported that they have been turned away by pharmacists who refuse to dispense contraceptives based on personal religious or moral beliefs.
Other women have discovered that some pharmacies do not stock emergency contraception because of religiously-based policies.
While the vast majority of pharmacists have no problem dispensing contraceptives, those pharmacists who do refuse to fill birth control prescriptions are creating a significant new threat women’s reproductive health care. Groups like Pharmacists for Life are seeking legal protections for their “right” to substitute their own moral judgments for the rights of customers to obtain their prescriptions.
This recent battle in the pharmacy is only the latest chapter in a concerted campaign by the religious conservatives to hinder women’s access to contraception. Pharmacist refusals are especially detrimental to women in rural areas, who may not have access to another pharmacy.
Advocates are working with pharmacists, pharmacies and policymakers to ensure that women are able to fill their contraceptive prescriptions. Regulations and legislation have passed in Illinois and California protecting women’s access to contraceptives and requiring pharmacies to serve their patients. In addition, organizations are working with state pharmacy boards to create policies that protect patients’ rights to obtain their medications. MergerWatch has also funded emergency contraception training programs taught by pharmacists for pharmacists and technicians in several of states.
What can you do?
- Make sure your pharmacy fills contraceptive prescriptions and ensures that if one pharmacist objects, another will step in to meet your needs in a timely manner.
- Talk to your friends, neighbors and local organizations to raise awareness about this issue.
- Ask your state legislators to strengthen laws requiring pharmacies to meet patients’needs.
- If you are refused emergency contraception at your local pharmacy, you can find out where to obtain EC by calling 1-888-668-2528 or by visiting www.not-2-late.com. Then, contact us at (212) 870-2010 or by email to let us know which pharmacy or pharmacists refused your prescription.