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Let's see, where was I when I left you?  Oh, yeah:  Wal-Mart caters to the most intolerant elements of the Conservative right.  Really, this one is so blatant it even surprises me:

Protestors from various women's groups stood in the mud beside Route 9 outside Wal-Mart Thursday to protest the retailer's refusal to carry emergency contraception.

Emergency contraception, this story from the U-Mass Amherst school paper explains, is not RU-486, the so-called "abortion pill."  It's Preven, a drug to prevent conception from happening.  And, after snooping around a bit, I discovered that Wal-Mart has refused to sell it since it came on the market in 1999.

The fact that it has to be taken within 72 hours after intercourse in order to be effective leaves some women at a severe disadvantage:

The protestors, including Linda Forman, President of UMass Vox, believe it's important for Wal-Mart to carry emergency contraception for women who have limited access to other pharmacies, such as those who live in rural areas.

"Wal-Mart is one of the biggest chains there is," Forman said. "We have access to CVS and Target, but some women don't. There only is a Wal-Mart in their neighborhood."

Does Wal-Mart care?  What do you think?  Wal-Mart's statement on this subject reads in part:

"Wal-Mart does not carry emergency contraceptives. Since Wal-Mart pharmacists cannot fill these prescriptions, they refer customers to another pharmacy in the community that can meet the customer's needs in a timely manner -- just as is done for any other medication that Wal-Mart does not stock," read the statement.

Do their stockholders know that the company is passing up this opportunity to make money?  On the other hand, back in 1999 when the drug came out, the Nation reported:

Unlike its conservative cousin [Wal-Mart], K-Mart has said it will fire any pharmacist who refuses to dispense any FDA-approved medication.

If you believe in a woman's right to control her own body, where do you want to shop?


Originally posted to JR Monsterfodder on Sun Mar 27, 2005 at 07:24 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tomorrow (4.00)
    Wal-Mart workers in their own words, a new series.


    How can you consider shopping at Wal-Mart if you have other choices?

    by JR Monsterfodder on Sun Mar 27, 2005 at 07:23:37 PM PST

  •  Many states (4.00)
    (17, IIRC) have laws on the book allowing individual pharmacists to refuse to fill contraceptive prescriptions--not just Plan B, but all birth control pills. But as a company policy, I think it's only Wal-Mart.
    •  Holy crap (none)
      This blows my mind, and I have known about evil Wal-Mart pharmacy policies on Preven for a long time.  It's on the books in 17 states??  So now not only do politicians tell me what I can and can't do with my body, but now my goddamned PHARMACIST can too?  My family planning decisions can be made by my pharmacist now??  

      This kind of shit makes me want to get very, very violent.  

      "Why, Tom, we're the people that live. They ain't gonna wipe us out. Why, we're the people--we go on." Ma Joad, The Grapes of Wrath

      by rocketito on Sun Mar 27, 2005 at 08:05:23 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Oops (none)
        overstated it (I was thinking of states where insurance doesn't have to cover contraception). It's three states (Arkansas, Mississippi, and South Dakota) that specify pharmacists' right of refusal, and 11 more are considering it. Twelve states allow "health care providers" the right of refusal to provide contraceptive services, and that can be construed to cover pharmacists.

        Pretty fucked up, huh?

        •  In Texas (none)
          HB 16 is still sitting in committee.  It "protects" from "discrimination" any pharmacist, health care worker or health facility that refuses to participate in the provision of emergency contraception, even for rape victims.

          Pharmacists and all other health care professionals will be allowed to discriminate against women who need EC, but will be protected from any legal consequences, including discrimination in hiring.

          This bill was authored by Frank Corte, the Baptist deacon whose 2003 HB15 imposed a de facto ban on abortion in Texas past 16 weeks. It's passing strange that a rabid opponent of abortion wants to make so many more of them inevitable ... unless, of course, one realizes that this isn't about abortion at all, but about encoding his personal religious and sexual hangups into law.

        •  attended a conference recently (none)
          and one of the sessions touched briefly on right of refusal legislation.  The concept sends my blood pressure into an unhealthy range.

          Can I ask your source for the states?  Curious to see what's going on in my own legislature...  

        •  never mind (none)
          found a little timely sumpin here

          Am relieved to find that my red state is not currently considering refusal right legislation.  Though I suspect the Culture of Life types are hard at work, laying plans for the foundation.  

          The notion that these lunatics have the right to foist their religious beliefs onto the general public, actively interfering in the decisions we make about our health care...

          I pity the fool who tries.      


  •  So basically (none)
    If they sell it, they win ($$). If they don't sell it, they win hearts.  Is that their idea?

    I'm sure that's very popular in my  part of Appalachia.  God, what a sickening pass this country has come to.  

  •  pharmacists discretion (4.00)
    In many states pharmacists can decide for whatever reason at all not to fill any script. I have had plenty of pharmacists refuse to fill scripts for Plan B and one wacko who stands out in my memory for refusing to fill a script for an antidepressant for an 18 year old because she should not have been seen at a pediatric office!!!!
    •  "Whatever reason at all" (none)
      including punishment, even when a woman's health is placed in immediate jeopardy by Wal-mart's refusal to provide medication.

      Wal-Mart pharmacies in Louisiana have refused to fill prescriptions even for antibiotics, for the stated reason that the prescriptions were written by doctors who provide abortion care.

  •  wary about this (none)
    While I'd like these drugs to be more readily available, I'm very wary of the government forcing someone to sell something they don't want to sell.  If I owned a store, I'd want to be able to avoid selling certain things for whatever reason, even if it's a silly reason.  In fact, it seems pretty anathema to the American view of personal liberty for the government to come in and tell you that you have to sell a particular product against your wishes.

    One alternative is for the people protesting to, instead of trying to force Wal-Mart to carry it, to use their pooled energies and money to find some other way to make it available.

    •  Yeah, maybe they (none)
      can figure out an alternative.  I thought we were supposed to be avoiding Walmart and encouraging others to avoid Walmart anyway.

      Bush's presidency is now inextricably yoked to the policies of aggression and subjugation. Mike Whitney

      by dfarrah on Sun Mar 27, 2005 at 08:00:31 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Pharmacists aren't just salespeople (4.00)
      They are the most trusted health care providers in America.  They have an ethical responsibility to provide an unbiased service.  No, I do not believe they have the right to say NO to any prescription that is legal.  

      How many layers of people are women going to have to be enslaved to before we stand up and make this shit stop?

      "Why, Tom, we're the people that live. They ain't gonna wipe us out. Why, we're the people--we go on." Ma Joad, The Grapes of Wrath

      by rocketito on Sun Mar 27, 2005 at 08:07:21 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Is it ethical? (none)
        I would think it would be unethical for the pharmacist to refuse to fill a prescription, barring a legitimate contraindication.

        They don't get to make the decisions on what medications people take; that's the doctor's job. If they want to decide who gets birth control, they can damn well go back to school and become gynecologists. Until then, they can all just bugger off.

        In some of the Pill incidents, the pharmacists have held the scrip hostage instead of referring the woman to a different drug store. I'm pretty sure that's an ethics violation.

        •  This is the point at which (none)
          I would, seriously, become violent.  The pharmacist not only says "no" to me because his/her morals are take precedence over mine when it comes to my own body, but then tries to keep my prescription, too?

          Wal-Mart also sells guns, y'all.  That's all I'm saying.  

          "Why, Tom, we're the people that live. They ain't gonna wipe us out. Why, we're the people--we go on." Ma Joad, The Grapes of Wrath

          by rocketito on Sun Mar 27, 2005 at 08:44:12 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Well, yeah, they do (none)
        This is the problem. (Though I'm not a pharmacist I do work in a pharmacy, so I know a little.)

        Pharmacists have to have, in general, the right to refuse to fill a prescription. Why? Because some people doctor-shop. They go around finding doctors that will give them the medication they want. Doctors can be accomodating (in a bad way) to this sort of thing. Sometimes they find more than one doctor.

        I do know of one incident where the pharmacist refused to fill a prescription for a narcotic painkiller--because the customer had gotten the same prescription a week before from another one of our chain's stores (the computers are linked) written by another doctor. (This was a one-month supply, and she wanted more in a week.) It was technically a legal prescription--it wasn't forged, it was signed by a doctor. But it was an attempt at gumming the system, and the pharmacist did the right thing.

        Not at all the same as refusing contraception for some stupid 'morality' issue. But my point is that you can't make blanket 'you must fill everything!' rules for pharmacists. They don't just dispense contraception--they dispense some powerful stuff that can be abused. They need the right to say no if they see clear evidence of abuse. So the lines can't be that black and white.

        "Don't call yourself religious, not with that blood on your hands"--Little Steven Van Zandt

        by ChurchofBruce on Sun Mar 27, 2005 at 08:48:50 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  That's a legal issue (none)
          And that's why drugs are classified as Schedule 3, Schedule 2, etc.  Drugs of abuse have legal restrictions.  

          I didn't say that pharmacists should be required to just hand over the whole shop--if so, why have pharmacists at all?

          Neither is it a slippery slope; not handing over methadone to anyone who asks for it, even if they do happen to have a scrip, is not the same thing as a pharmacist refusing to give me legal medication just because they have an emotional or religious problem with it.   One is public health protection and the other is oppression by religion.

          "Why, Tom, we're the people that live. They ain't gonna wipe us out. Why, we're the people--we go on." Ma Joad, The Grapes of Wrath

          by rocketito on Sun Mar 27, 2005 at 09:00:51 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I know it's a legal issue (none)
            but so is restricting pharmacists from being able to refuse to fill a prescription. I mean, I figured you were talking about enacting laws to that end.

            "Don't call yourself religious, not with that blood on your hands"--Little Steven Van Zandt

            by ChurchofBruce on Mon Mar 28, 2005 at 05:44:14 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  You're right (none)
              I didn't state it clearly.

              As you indicated, drugs of abuse and birth control are two different issues.  One involves protecting public safety, the other using a position of authority to force one's own religious or moral beliefs on a vulnerable public.

              "Why, Tom, we're the people that live. They ain't gonna wipe us out. Why, we're the people--we go on." Ma Joad, The Grapes of Wrath

              by rocketito on Mon Mar 28, 2005 at 05:56:13 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  no, they're not different issues (none)
                They both involve using a position of authority to force one's own religious or moral beliefs on the public.

                Or do you think prohibition was a good idea too?

                •  They're quite different (none)
                  in a number of ways; for instance, one is a collective decision open to argument and appeal by democratic process, at least ostensibly.  One is an arbitrary decision being made by a semi-educated individual with all the power to impact my health and future based on my gender.  

                  I'm sympathetic to issues of pharmaceutical openness and frankly tend to agree that it is paternalistic to control the distribution of medication as much as we do in this country. I'd love to see FDA reform and make many meds otc.

                  But to say that this problem is the same problem as I would face obtaining emergency contraception at a drugstore after being raped, when the prejudices and opinions not of the majority but of one narrowminded asshole with a pharmacy can legally rape me again, is really counterproductive.  Not to mention offensive to me personally.  

                  Pharmacies have a public health responsibility.  We may disagree about what that public health reponsibility should be in specific formulary terms, but to pretend that there is no public responsibility and that it would be a fine thing for every pharmacist to make individual "moral" decisions about what they fill and don't fill is such a ludicrous argument I'm not going to continue debating it.

                  "Why, Tom, we're the people that live. They ain't gonna wipe us out. Why, we're the people--we go on." Ma Joad, The Grapes of Wrath

                  by rocketito on Mon Mar 28, 2005 at 07:59:29 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                •  No (none)
                  Double-checking that someone's not ODing on vicodin isn't moral or religious. It's public safety. It's the same as the bartender shutting you off when you're falling off the barstool.

                  "Don't call yourself religious, not with that blood on your hands"--Little Steven Van Zandt

                  by ChurchofBruce on Mon Mar 28, 2005 at 11:19:25 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  this isn't a bar (none)
                    It's not the same as a bartender shutting you off—it's more like a liquor store refusing to sell you certain types of alcohol because they suspect you plan to get drunk.

                    And are you really going to argue that the reason marijuana is illegal is because of a public safety issue?  It's a moral and religious issue.

      •  I disagree (none)
        If I want to open a pharmacy that only sells Aspirin, or only sells medicines whose scientific name begins with "y" and has between 9 and 18 letters, that's my prerogative.  If you don't like it, you don't have to shop at my "crazy pharamcist who only likes y" pharmacy.
        •  Sorry, you're wrong (none)
          Pharmacists have a code of ethics, and they are licensed professionals. They have obligations that set them apart from your average shopkeeper.

          I found a tenet of their code of ethics that seems relevant to this issue:

          VI. A pharmacist respects the values and abilities of colleagues and other health professionals.

          When appropriate, a pharmacist asks for the consultation of colleagues or other health professionals or refers the patient. A pharmacist acknowledges that colleagues and other health professionals may differ in the beliefs and values they apply to the care of the patient.

          •  I'm not saying from a legal point of view (none)
            I understand that we live in a fascist society where the State can tell individuals how they can and cannot run their lives.  That doesn't make it right for the State to use its coercive force to prohibit me from opening a shop that only sells Aspirin, or drugs that start with "y".
            •  Not the state (none)
              The profession. The state may incorporate the ethical guidelines into the law, but the ultimate obligation is to the profession itself.

              It's not coercion, because you take an oath when you enter a profession that you will uphold the ethics of that profession.

              •  it is if the oath is mandatory (none)
                If it's a voluntary association, then that's fine.  However, if it's a condition imposed by the state as a matter of law that you must take that oath in order to sell pills, then that's immoral.  I ought to be able to open my starting-with-y pharmacy, and if the State legally prohibits me from doing so, either directly or by forcing me to join an association that prohibits me from doing so, then that is state coercion interfering with my rights.

                It's one thing to say that I can't misrepresent what I sell: It's perfectly reasonable that I should be prosecuted if I take rat poison and sell it labelled as some other drug, or, less extremely, if I sell placebo sugar pills labelled as actual drugs.  But if I'm being perfectly honest about what I'm selling, I don't see why the State ought to be able to force me to sell things other than what I want to sell in my own store.

                •  Oh, stuff it! (none)
                  This is a ridiculous argument, and your position is Randian bullshit. The community has a right to expect certain standards from people who provide vital services to the public.

                  You don't get to call yourself a pharmacist if you don't dispense drugs properly, period. Your hypothetical drug store could be called a "crazy-ass pseudo drug store," but would in no way be fit to call itself a pharmacy.

                  It's not an infringement on your rights, because you have no right to be incompetent.

                  •  I agree with that, but the law doesn't allow that (none)
                    I agree that I shouldn't be able to call myself a pharmacist, or my store a pharmacy.  What I'm arguing is that I still should be able to open the store and sell the drugs I want to.  The law currently doesn't allow that, because only people who call themselves pharmacists are allowed to sell drugs.

                    I have nothing against truth-in-labelling laws, or voluntary associations.  If there is a professional association for pharamcists, they're free not to admit me at their discretion.  However, they should not be able to shut down my store: All they should be able to do is force me to take down their logo and not advertise that I'm a member of their association.

                    But I suppose the average American is stupid enough that they need a nanny state to regulate everything so they don't accidentally kill themselves.  I personally order all my drugs off the internet, because I can do my own damn research.

                •  I hope the people of your community (none)
                  would have the good sense to boycott your store.

                  Your argument seems to me to be not-to-far from the slippery slope of being able to decide WHO you want to sell to, as in "The gov't has no business telling me I have to sell to black people."

                  •  that's fine with me (none)
                    If they want to boycott my store, that's their prerogative.  I'm not arguing that I should be able to force people to shop at my store, merely that I should be able to have it open stocking the products I want.

                    I don't see how this is related at all to regulating who shops at my store.  In that instance I would be barring customers on the basis of race; in the instance I'm describing, I am simply not ordering certain supplies from wholesalers.  Certainly the government doesn't have the right to tell Home Depot which types of ceiling fans it can stock?

              •  Not so much the profession (none)
                The ultimate obligation is to society itself; to clients.  

                If pharmacists don't have this ethical obligation, and I strongly agree with Hamletta that they do, then why license physicians?  Why have the requirement that psychologists and attorneys take exams to make sure they are competent?  Why have laws against drunk driving? Why have any laws or rules in society at all, if individual freedom is so paramount that public safety should not be protected?

                Sorry if I'm stepping on libertarian toes, but the "I have the right to do whatever I want and screw everybody else because it's a free country" argument is just so silly.  If we can't agree that we band together as a societal unit for some reason other than capitalism, then we've got way bigger problems than Democrat vs. Republican.

                "Why, Tom, we're the people that live. They ain't gonna wipe us out. Why, we're the people--we go on." Ma Joad, The Grapes of Wrath

                by rocketito on Mon Mar 28, 2005 at 05:38:31 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  well, if you're in a country with stupid people (none)
                  You see, since I'm not a complete fucking moron, I can make my own decisions.

                  Say, for example, that the FDA did not make it so that only FDA-approved drugs were legal, but still existed as a body that gave out "FDA-approved" labels.  The other drugs would still be available, but could not carry an "FDA-approved" logo.  How would this hurt me?  I would still buy only drugs that had either been FDA approved or approved by some other body of similar reliability.  I could legally buy some random crap somebody invented yesterday, but I wouldn't, because I'm not a complete idiot.  But I'd be able to decide whether I thought, for example, that Canadian-approved drugs were good enough, or if I'd insist on only FDA-approved drugs.

                  Instead, the government does it for me by banning all non-FDA-approved drugs.  I don't see how I benefit at all from this.

                  •  If this has morphed into an argument about FDA (none)
                    then I can't argue.  The FDA is fucked up, utterly, and operates for the benefit of big pharm only now.

                    If we're arguing whether someone behind a pharmacy counter has the right to sell or not sell whatever they want, I have and am saying again that I think it's wrong.  Pharmacists have a public health and safety responsibility; it's inherent in the profession.  That is not the same as saying they should be the moral arbiter of each and every scrip.  Putting both issues in the same bin diminishes what is happening to women denied medical care because of the personal opinions of pharmacists.

                    "Why, Tom, we're the people that live. They ain't gonna wipe us out. Why, we're the people--we go on." Ma Joad, The Grapes of Wrath

                    by rocketito on Mon Mar 28, 2005 at 07:47:41 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  see, I disagree on that (none)
                      I don't think pharmacists should have any more than a very limited public health and safety responsibility.  In essence, the only regulations I'd support are on anti-biotics, because misuse of them can have severe consequences for people other than the person misusing them (drug-resistant strains of bacteria).  So a pharmacist should be charged with making sure anti-biotics are only dispensed according to a doctor's prescription.  Everything else IMO should be over the counter, in which case the argument would be moot, because you could go buy your emergency contraceptive from anywhere.
                      •  Oh, Jesus, that's *all* we'd need, (none)
                        to have the narcotics out over the counter.

                        Shit. Like we don't have enough of a shoplifting problem.

                        That's the other reason I'm glad we have a pharmacy department--security. All that shit's locked up. Only the pharmacists can get at it. Thank goodness. We might as well just leave money lying around instead of in the safe.


                        "Don't call yourself religious, not with that blood on your hands"--Little Steven Van Zandt

                        by ChurchofBruce on Mon Mar 28, 2005 at 11:33:31 AM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  I didn't say leave them out (none)
                          They can certainly be locked up, like diamonds are at a jewelry store.  I'm using the term "over the counter" in the legal sense, as in not requiring a doctor's prescription to purchase.  The store can still of course enforce whatever security measures it wants, much like other stores that sell commonly-shoplifted items do (jewelry, electronics, etc.).
                  •  It has nothing to do with 'stupid people' (none)
                    It has to do with expertise, and time.

                    I am on two medications for hypertension. They were prescribed by a doctor and filled by a pharmacist. You think I'm capable of prescribing those things by myself? No fucking way. And I'm not stupid. However, I don't have the education or experience.

                    "Don't call yourself religious, not with that blood on your hands"--Little Steven Van Zandt

                    by ChurchofBruce on Mon Mar 28, 2005 at 11:27:23 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

  •  Where is the next generation (none)
    of Wal-Mart employees going to come from?  Wal-Mart thinks ahead, a woman with enough money will get the morning after pill.  The next generation of indentured servants will realize the consequence of this policy.
  •  make them accountable (4.00)
    I think when a pharmacy refuses to carry EC for so-called moral reasons, should be required to sign a form stating that in doing so, they understand that they are refusing to help decrease the number of unintended pregnancies and abortions.

    In addition, I'd also like to have them sign a statement noting that by failing to prescribe this med, the pregnancies that will occur (that could have been prevented) and the abortions that will occur (that could have been prevented) are partially their responsibility.

    It is moral to understand and take responsibility for the consequences of their actions. Refusing to help prevent abortions is NOT moral.

    •  I'd go further (none)
      I think the pharmacist who decides not to give a prescription for birth control should have to pay the woman's medical costs and adopt the baby.

      Making moral decisions about my life would be a lot harder for an outside person if that person had to bear the consequences of those decisions.  Instead, lofty "moral" decisions get made by people who have the power to force them on us, yet bear no consequences for the results.

      "Why, Tom, we're the people that live. They ain't gonna wipe us out. Why, we're the people--we go on." Ma Joad, The Grapes of Wrath

      by rocketito on Mon Mar 28, 2005 at 05:59:58 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  This is wrong (4.00)
    Pharmacists should dispense medication to their patients without making moral judgments.
  •  Fun with Germans (4.00)
    I dropped by a pharmacy (Apotheke) to ask what birth control pills would cost each month - about 10 Euro ($13) for most name brands (as opposed to around $30/month back in the States).  The 20-something pharmacy trainee was not able to quote this off the top of her head, as that's usually covered by the state-mandated health insurance.

    I then told her that in some parts of the US, pharmacists are allowed to refuse to dispense birth control or emergency contraception.

    I'm in rural Bavaria, the most conservative, most Catholic part of Germany.

    "But that's unethical!  You'd lose your license on the spot here if you did that!"

    By the way, the US abortion rate is about 3 times that of Germany, and it doesn't seem to be because unmarried Germans aren't sleeping with each other...

    Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely in my name.

    by A Texan in Maryland on Sun Mar 27, 2005 at 10:08:15 PM PST

  •  wall of wankers (none)
    looks like Atrios is trying to put together a list of pharmacists who put their personal religious beliefs above their professional ethics

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