Just when I thought we might be gaining ground for women?s reproductive rights, some pharmacists are refusing to fill prescriptions for birth control or emergency contraception (EC), also known as the “morning after pill.”According to CBS News, bills have been introduced in at least 26 states that would allow pharmacists to refuse to fill such prescriptions if it offends their religious or moral beliefs. However, four states are considering laws that would require pharmacists to fill all prescriptions.
So far, the cases that have been reported are few, but this could be because women are either scared to come forward or don?t want the press coverage. According to Planned Parenthood?s president, Karen Pearl, 95 percent of American women use birth control at some point in their lives.
According to The Washington Post, some pharmacists only fill birth control prescriptions for married women. Some pharmacists also mistakenly believe that contraception is a form of abortion and don?t fill any prescriptions for it. There are even cases where pharmacists have held a prescription hostage, refusing to offer a referral for another pharmacy AND refusing to give the woman her prescription back.
These situations are absolutely outrageous. No matter what one?s beliefs, no one should withhold another person?s prescription, especially in such crucial matters of bringing another life into the world. Pharmacists have no way of knowing what a woman?s personal situation is. Kathleen Pulz and her husband wanted EC because their condom broke, and they knew they could not afford a fifth child, yet she was denied her prescription.
There also may be victims of sexual assault, rape or incest. In any case, to deny a woman something that she is entitled to the right to control her own body is ludicrous. What?s next, refusing medication to AIDS patients?
I believe that pharmacists have the right to their own beliefs, and no one can force them to fill a prescription. I believe they should not have to, but it MUST be mandated that another pharmacist be on staff who will. No woman should have to go to a second pharmacy; having to do so would be an inconvenience which sometimes can not be afforded.
A common misconception is that the “morning after pill” can only be taken the morning after, because of the slang term. The truth, according to Planned Parenthood, is that it actually can be taken up to five mornings after unprotected intercourse or contraception failure. Of course, it is most effective when taken within 72 hours, but it actually can be taken up to 120 hours after unprotected intercourse. However, many doctors stick with the 72 hour rule, and not all brands are effective up to 120 hours later.
Even if it is the 120 hour type, the effectiveness of the medication decreases with each passing day. In such cases, time is of the essence, although the Christian Legal Society does not see it the same way.
Spokesperson Steven H. Aden said, “I don?t think that in America, we have a situation where there are regions of the country where there?s only one option and that option forecloses that choice to women,” according to CBS News.
Obviously, Adler is mistaken. Some rural communities only have one pharmacy, and driving a long distance to fill a needed prescription to which a person is entitled is ridiculous. More often, there is the case of women with low incomes not being able to take the time off of work or secure the necessary transportation to travel to more than one pharmacy, especially if the next one is miles away.
Such problems for many would be solved if all hospitals provided EC. Usually, time is not of the essence if one is filling a prescription for birth control. But as stated earlier, time is very important when EC is needed.
According to the Planned Parenthood, 54 percent of hospitals in Pennsylvania do not provide EC for victims of rape, sexual assault or incest. It is mandated that a “rape kit” be completed,