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18 July 2005 @ 09:23 am
Right to refuse women birth control prescriptions and/or Plan B  
"Like several other chains, Wal-Mart and Walgreens don't require their pharmacists to fill prescriptions that violate their religious or moral beliefs. In such cases, however, the pharmacists still must follow through with the patient, either by finding another store pharmacist to fill the prescription or by referring the patient to a nearby pharmacy that can fill it."
Full Article

"There are pharmacists who will only give birth control pills to a woman if she's married. There are pharmacists who mistakenly believe contraception is a form of abortion and refuse to prescribe it to anyone," said Adam Sonfield of the Alan Guttmacher Institute in New York, which tracks reproductive issues. "There are even cases of pharmacists holding prescriptions hostage, where they won't even transfer it to another pharmacy when time is of the essence."
Full Article

If you agree that it is up to a woman and NOT her pharmacist whether or not she take birth control or Plan B, please consider boycotting the following businesses and emailing them to let them know why you are doing so:

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
Bentonville, AK 72716-8611
Company Officers if you decide to do the research and contact each one specifically.

Rite Aid #5207 <-- Broadway store in Seattle
Rite Aid Corporation
Customer Support
PO Box 3165
Harrisburg, PA 17105

Walgreens Company
Consumer Relations
200 Wilmot Road
Mail Stop #2273
Deerfield, IL 60015

Please also consider contacting the local managers of any of these stores you've bought at to let them know that the national policy will be affecting their store.

To Whom It May Concern:

"There are pharmacists who will only give birth control pills to a woman if she's married. There are pharmacists who mistakenly believe contraception is a form of abortion and refuse to prescribe it to anyone," said Adam Sonfield of the Alan Guttmacher Institute in New York, which tracks reproductive issues. "There are even cases of pharmacists holding prescriptions hostage, where they won't even transfer it to another pharmacy when time is of the essence."

I object strongly to your policy on allowing pharmacists to refuse women the right to birth control, enough so that I will no longer be buying anything from your stores until that policy changes and someone personally communicates that change to me or I see blatant public announcements to this effect.

--- Kim-specific ---
I am religiously a pacifist, which means that I have moral objections to serving in the military. As such, it is my responsibility to not commit myself to a position where I will be serving the military, even indirectly as a military contractor. I would not join the Army and then, when someone hands me a gun, suddenly claim religious reasons to not fire it. It would be irresponsible of me to do so. COMPANY'S NAME policy should clearly state that any pharmacist hired will be expected to prescribe birth control or any FDA-approved drug to women with professional information and without judgment or harassment. The god(s) of a religion are responsible for judging, not pharmacists and not COMPANY NAME. If a pharmacist objects to prescribing birth control, they should have thought of that before spending the money on pharmacy school, and I wish them the best of luck finding a position that does not compromise their morality.
--- END Kim-specific ---

I am horrified that COMPANY NAME is willing to excuse judgmental, harassing behaviour from pharmacists. Refusing a woman birth control is the first step in insisting that women go back to being barefoot and pregnant. Please join us in the 21st century and cherish the opportunities available to women thanks to the many benefits of birth control.

I firmly believe women of all religions have the right to make their own decisions and settle their own affairs with their god(s) and themselves. Please let me know if your policies change to require pharmacists to prescribe birth control in a professional manner to all women who legally qualify for it in your stores' states.

An ex-customer.
Full Name
Current Mood: tired of being pissed off
(Deleted comment)
Kburgunder on July 18th, 2005 05:59 pm (UTC)
Heh, that's funny - I didn't spend as much time on Wal-Mart either. Even if they fixed this, I still hvae 50 other reasons I wouldn't buy from them.

Thanks, babe. *hug*
(Deleted comment)
Kburgunder on July 18th, 2005 06:14 pm (UTC)
Heh. I'm sure it's in one of the books by my favorite ex-Christian-killing forgive-me-please Christian-convert homophobe Saul-turned-Paul.
(Deleted comment)
Kburgunder on July 18th, 2005 10:10 pm (UTC)

What I get from that is that Walgreens makes it the customer's problem when a pharmacist is unwilling to do their job.

If I held an intense conviction that I had to prevent the whole world from access to BCP, I'd go get my pharmacy degree and rush off to Walgreens to take on as many shifts as other people with like morality. Their decision to straddle the fence is a very exploitable opportunity to turn Walgreens into a platform from which "moral" pharmacists can collectively tout their "BCP is bad" horns. I totally believe religious coalitions are capable of thinking and organizing that coherently.
(Deleted comment)
Kburgunder on July 18th, 2005 05:59 pm (UTC)
Email sent

Email sent
Snail mail sent

Rite Aid
Email sent
Snail mail sent
Zen_Cowboyjakeaidan on July 18th, 2005 06:04 pm (UTC)
What I don't understand...
"There are pharmacists who mistakenly believe contraception is a form of abortion and refuse to prescribe it to anyone,"

Since when do pharmacists prescribe anything? Don't the just fill doctor prescriptions? Granted, I never had to buy birth control pills, but I was under the impression that it had to be a doctor that prescribes the medicines?
Kburgunder on July 18th, 2005 06:09 pm (UTC)
Re: What I don't understand...
Doctor prescribes it, but the pharmacists *fills* the prescription, which essentially completes the prescription process. The word is probably misused, but I can see why they used it.
Kburgunder on July 18th, 2005 06:10 pm (UTC)
Re: What I don't understand...
p.s. Also, once a pharmacy refuses a prescription, they have to be involved in transferring it to another pharmacy if they can't fill it or if that person simply wants to change pharmacies. This is apparently an area where trouble has been occurring - pharmacists refusing to transfer the prescription.
Kburgunder on July 18th, 2005 06:16 pm (UTC)
Re: What I don't understand...
Example for clarification:

I get a 1-year prescription of BCP at Walgreens
I receive BCP for 3 months, and then a new pharmacist joins who refuses to fill the prescription
I now have to have that same pharmacist transfer my prescription to another store
Strange whimsy: grrrrkindofstrange on July 18th, 2005 07:04 pm (UTC)
Rather tricksy issue to get around from an individualist standpoint.

While I am indeed outraged that any pharmacist would deny filling a prescription, I do believe it is an individual company's right to decide what they will not fill. There is almost always going to be another company that will that will net the sales that it refuses to take.

They do not, however, have any right to hold onto your property (your prescription) and prevent you from taking it to a competitor who will fill it. They steal your property, which is therefore theft and therefore illegal and enforceable through existing law. Theft of a prescription should be enforced as any other theft, and the public should be made aware of companies that participate in it and boycott them thusly. A loss in sales may force the company in question to hire someone on staff who WILL fill those prescriptions, thus rectifying the problem. If not, they continue to lose out on sales while you take your $$$ elsewhere and subsequently give them nothing but bad publicity to other potential consumers.

While you make no mention to encouraging federal regulation in this instance, I know it's a common enough response to this issue that I felt it needed a bit of discussion. Personally, I feel contacting the companies as individuals, as you suggest, and boycotting the companies participating in such practices is the way to go.
floiterfloiter on July 18th, 2005 07:12 pm (UTC)
I'm sorry, but this just seems to be mad. Maybe Im being simplistic here, but my understanding is that the doctors do all the prescribing. For drugs of this type, the pharmacist is nothing more than a glorified checkout assistant. You give them the prescription, they give you the drugs. If they dont like what you're doing, but its within the law, then they need to get out there in their spare time, and lobby the politicians and law-makers to try to change the law. Hell, I'd support anyone that does something like that to change what they dont like. But in the meantime, as long as its legal, they should be compelled to give you your legally prescribed drugs.

As a non-American, looking in, it seems to me that the USA has a large number of people who spend a lot of time claiming their rights, without giving a moments thought for the responsibilities that come with them. Sure, a pharamcist has the right to dispense drugs to people. But with that right comes the responsibility to do the dispensing fairly, properly, and within the strictures of the law, even when they don't like what those drugs are being used for.

If they are not prepared to accept their responsibilities, then maybe their matching rights should be withdrawn. I wonder how many of these people would change their tune when their paycheck vanished because they could no longer dispense ...
Satan's Tilt-A-Whirlsavannarama on July 18th, 2005 07:31 pm (UTC)
Something also worth mentioning in your travels is that Bartell Drugs not only has Plan B but posts a sign that says so. They're good eggs and deserve a mention to any audience you address on this (and also in protest letters, as your local heroes and alternatives). I love giving them my drugstore business.
Artemis Jonesrimrunner on July 18th, 2005 07:49 pm (UTC)
Fred Meyer also has it. I've needed emergency contraception when there was a possibility usual methods had failed and they were polite, courteous, and considerate.
Kburgunder on July 18th, 2005 09:34 pm (UTC)
This may seem extravagantly paranoid, but I was actually reluctant to post the heroes because, on that chance that someone against Plan B or BCP came upon this post, I wanted to make it hard for them to find out who their opponents were ;>

FWIW, I recently sent Fred Meyer (and Kroger - I believe Bartell's is a also a sub-company of Kroger?) a huge thank you for all of their efforts and good policies.
Satan's Tilt-A-Whirlsavannarama on July 18th, 2005 10:10 pm (UTC)
Kroger/Fred Meyer/QFC are all part of the same thing; I believe Bartell's is independently owned.
Kburgunder on July 27th, 2005 12:03 am (UTC)
It's generic, but I greatly appreciate that it was routed all the way to the VP's office. Yea Fred Meyer!

Dear Ms. Kxx,

Thank you for your compliments regarding our pharmacy. I am very pleased
that we are serving your needs in a professional and courteous manner. We
have a very fine group of pharmacists that are committed to providing
pharmacy services to our patients.

Marc Cecchini, R.Ph.
Vice President, Director of Pharmacy
Fred Meyer Stores
Artemis Jones: Librarianrimrunner on July 18th, 2005 07:52 pm (UTC)
All this makes me wonder if there's a code of professional ethics for pharmacists. Such codes exist for situations like this; they drawn a distinction between an individual's personal morality, and their professional behavior.

Physicians swear an oath to abide by such a code. Librarians and archivists have codes which we follow regardless of our personal feelings on the issues they address. If pharmacists wish to be taken seriously as professionals, they should have one too—and if any one of them cannot abide by such a code for reasons of personal morality, he/she should provide an alternative arrangement or get the fuck out of the profession.
Kburgunder on July 18th, 2005 09:41 pm (UTC)
That's a damn good point.

I would be equally unsympathetic to a Mennonite who joined the Army and cried religious discrimination the second they didn't want to participate in combat training and were forced too anyway. I absolutely support a Mennonite's right to oppose military actions by not joining the Army, or by being excused from a draft for religious reasons. But to sign up for a specific set of duties that are morally incompatible with their ethical code? That'd get a "too bad, sucka, do your homework next time. good luck with that desertion hearing" from me. I wish these pharmacists with "moral objections" all the best in finding a field where they are comfortable and happy and not judging, harassing or indoctrinating anyone because of incompatible moral beliefs.

Do you know the history of the librarian and archivist code? Does it have a specific name, like the Hippocratic (sp) Oath? I'd be fascinated to learn more about how such things come about, the process involved in making a universal code for a profession and the subsequent enforcement.
Artemis Jones: Librarianrimrunner on July 18th, 2005 11:47 pm (UTC)
The current ALA Code of Ethics was adopted in 1995. It's worth noting that librarians as champions of intellectual freedom is a fairly recent phenomenon (the result of the 60s, I have a feeling). A link on that pages leads to the history of the Code and some material about older versions; the earliest one appears to date from 1939.

The Society of American Archivists Code of Ethics is more recent, though I can't remember offhand when it was first adopted. The current version was approved this year.

It's interesting to see how these codes change over time as the profession evolves. However, it's fair to say that librarians are expected to distinguish between personal feelings and professional conduct. Since part of our mandate is to provide open access to information, it would be hypocritical of us to exclude materials solely on the basis that they violated our personal standards of morality. Someone, somewhere, has researched something I would find offensive, and that's their right.

As it turns out, there is a Code of Ethics for pharmacists. I don't like the inclusion of phrasing like "moral obligations and virtues". Morality and ethics are not the same thing, and by conflating them, the APhA is not helping the situation.
Kburgunder on July 27th, 2005 12:21 am (UTC)
Section III Code of Ethics
III. A pharmacist respects the autonomy and dignity of each patient.

A pharmacist promotes the right of self-determination and recognizes individual self-worth by encouraging patients to participate in decisions about their health. A pharmacist communicates with patients in terms that are understandable. In all cases, a pharmacist respects personal and cultural differences among patients.

I haven't gotten to the bottom of the document just yet. I will never ever be a lawyer for a great many reasons, but I suspect I'll outline one of them by saying the following... doesn't respecting personal and cultural differences imply that if BCP is morally OK with a patient but not with the pharmacist, they need to respect the patient's differences of morality and dispense the BCP? Maybe respect doesn't imply "do job", but I imagine a lack of respect in that situation, on the part of the pharmacist or the customer, to be (1) refusing to dispense the BCP to the customer or (2) forcing the pharmacist to take BCP. I definitely see how taking BCP is against many people's religious obligations, but I fail, in a probably fundamental way, to understand how people not of their religion taking BCP has anything to do with anything. I'd be standing with a lot of these boogers if the government tried to force birth control on anyone, as much as I on a strictly personal level might think that some parents should've had to apply for a parenting license first. Maybe this just points out that I've always been against laws that "protect" people from themselves. I'm all for the Darwinism of personal responsibility. ;>

In a funny sort of way, those refusing to dispense BCP are kind of saying, "Go! Multiply! Make more little liberals to thwart my ideals!" Ah, there's my sense of humor, it's been hiding pretty far up my ass lately.

And, laughing to herself, she saves the rest of the Code of Ethics for later and returns to her studies of Ancient Minoa...
VAXhackervaxhacker on July 19th, 2005 06:19 am (UTC)
This is the (usually unpopular) point I often end up raising in these kinds of conversations. Making the choice to profess or follow a particular religious belief system carries responsibilities and often presents you with hard choices between what you believe you should do, and what opportunities you may have to sacrifice in the process.

It is unfair (and IMHO rightly illegal) to say to someone, "We won't hire you in our company because we don't like your religion." However, if you belong to a religion, you need to seriously consider the implications of embarking on a career or taking a job offer which will require you to do things which violate the religious or moral code of conduct you're expected to follow in your own life. It may well be that your choices for one aspect of your life will affect what choices you will allow yourself to make in other areas.

If a Mennonite wants to be a soldier, or a Mormon wants to be a bartender at a strip club, or fundamentalist Christian wants to do office work for the local Planned Parenthood office or whatever, they're welcome to do that, but they know what they're getting in for and it wouldn't be fair for them to turn around and make the rest of the world revolve around their point of view.

Reasonable accommodation is fine. Accepting a position which is, in a fundamental way, opposed to your beliefs and expecting the position to change to suit you, isn't.

That said, it's probably reasonable for an individual pharmacist to refuse to dispense something personally if the office can still fill the Rx for you, or assume the entire burden of getting it filled for you, without the risk of being unable to get the meds you need. But philosophically, why is that any better (facilitating someone else's filling of the Rx) than doing it directly yourself anyway?

It just seems to me that you either need to accept that there may be some aspects of a job you're obligated to carry out which you may not agree with, and make sure you can rationalize that to your satisfaction, or you should think twice about setting yourself up in a career that puts you in that kind of dilemma.

Kburgunder on July 27th, 2005 12:05 am (UTC)
But philosophically, why is that any better (facilitating someone else's filling of the Rx) than doing it directly yourself anyway?

This part made me laugh :>
Pegaxpegax on July 19th, 2005 08:58 am (UTC)
What's Plan B?
Kriskfrye on July 19th, 2005 05:23 pm (UTC)
It's called the "morning after" pill. It's essentially a concentrated form of birth control that prevents conception from taking place. It has to be taken within 72? hours or so of intercourse. Some people confuse it with RU486, which is a medicinal form of abortion, but it's not the same thing. Plan B is currently available within the US with a prescription from a doctor, but there's a movement to make it available without one... although the Bush-controlled FDA has squashed that, at least temporarily.
Pegaxpegax on July 20th, 2005 11:44 am (UTC)
Ah okay... so in finnish it is katumuspilleri (remorse pill is the literal translation). I should have known that one. Thanks for clarification.
Kburgunder on July 27th, 2005 12:06 am (UTC)
Heh, I like the literal translation. And of course, being Finnish, it has an extra 5 syllables just for good measure. GRiN