Tell Congress: Stop Pharmacists From Playing God with Women's Health

In 2005, the Arizona Daily Star reported that a 20-year-old woman living in Tucson, Arizona was raped. The woman spent three frantic days calling dozens of Tucson pharmacies trying to fill a valid prescription from a doctor for emergency contraception. She finally found a pharmacy carrying the prescription, but she was told the pharmacist on duty would not dispense it due to his religious bias. By the time a willing pharmacist was found, the optimal time frame for taking the medication had passed.

Pharmacists in four states are allowed to deny women emergency contraception, even to rape victims, if doing so violates their own religious attitudes. Such laws impose one person's particular religion on another person, denying a perfectly legitimate medical service. Pharmacists should not be able to deny a woman access to valid medical services. It is unconscionable that a trauma such as rape should be compounded by denying access to emergency contraception. That is why you should urge your members of Congress to co-sponsor the Access to Birth Control Act (ABC Act). 

Women are not second class citizens. No woman with a valid prescription should be denied treatment because of someone else's religion. The ABC Act would stop pharmacies from denying the sale of contraceptives because of a pharmacy employee's religious attitudes. In recent years, women in at least 24 states across the country have reported incidents where they have been denied access to birth control and emergency contraception.

Pharmacists are employed in the field of medicine, not religion. They have the right to consider their own religious beliefs in determining what medical decisions they make for their own care. Their religious bias should never override their professional obligation to their customers and patients.

The ABC Act ensures that the rights of patients to information, referrals, and prescriptions trump the desire of religious pharmacists to deny women the care or services they need and deserve.

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