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Target's Pharmacist Refusal Policy (November 17, 2005)
by charismatic megafauna
Friday Dec 2nd, 2005 2:13 PM
With all the anti- Walmart fever, I feel that this is an issue that hasn't been paid enough attention. Target allows pharmacists to refuse to dispense BC or EC based on religious beliefs. In other words, if there's one pharmacist present, a woman is (no pun intended) screwed, particulary when it comes to EC, as it is less effective as time goes on.
WASHINGTON, DC — Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) today expressed outrage at the Target Corporation for misrepresenting Planned Parenthood and attempting to cover up a misguided corporate policy that denies women access to contraception. PPFA has urged Target to implement a policy that respects the rights of its customers by ensuring that Target pharmacies fill prescriptions in-store, without discrimination or delay. Following weeks of discussion, Target announced it was unwilling to implement a customer-friendly policy and would continue to embrace a policy that denies women timely access to basic health care. In response to complaints from the public, Target has questioned the veracity of a well-documented pharmacist refusal incident in Missouri and grossly mischaracterized PPFA's attempts to address the situation.

"Rather than fix its discriminatory policy, Target has instead chosen to misrepresent the facts of a recent refusal incident at a Target store and to malign Planned Parenthood for its efforts to address the situation. Target's response to complaints from the public amounts to dishonest spin that points fingers at others and tries to justify a very bad policy," said Karen Pearl, PPFA interim president. "When the drugs needed to fill women's prescriptions are sitting on a shelf behind the counter, women should not be turned away and sent to find them at another store. If Kmart, CVS, Costco and other chains can find a way to accommodate employees while still ensuring that patients receive timely, on-site access to their prescription medication, why can't Target?"

On September 30, 2005, a Target pharmacist in Fenton, MO, refused to fill a Planned Parenthood patient's prescription for emergency contraception. In responding to complaints from the public about the incident, Target misrepresented both Planned Parenthood and the woman in its communications, stating that the refusal incident never took place. Prior to this refusal incident, Target ignored three requests by Planned Parenthood to clarify its national policy on pharmacists who refuse to fill valid, legal prescriptions for birth control.

"Women who need emergency contraception do not have the luxury of hunting for a pharmacist willing to dispense the medication their doctor prescribed. Target's refuse-and-refer policy purports to protect patients, but in reality puts the burden squarely on the customer and that is unacceptable," added Pearl. "Customers should be able to get prescriptions filled in any Target store, without discrimination or delay. Other chains understand that and have sound policies that respect women's rights, and so should Target."

Pharmacist refusals are a disturbing trend that can jeopardize woman's reproductive health. Denying women timely access to health care is an act of discrimination that could lead to an increased number of unintended pregnancies. For more information on pharmacist refusals and on the Target situation, please visit and

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