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Austin Cline

Missouri GOP Approves Bill Letting Pharmacies Limit Women's Access to Contraception

By April 18, 2013

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Birth Control Pills
Birth Control Pills
Photo: Don Farrall, Photodisc, Getty Images

The latest Republican attack on women's health and lives is occurring in Missouri where the Republican-controlled state senate has passed a bill to let pharmacies refuse to stock any drugs that the owners have any sort of personal objection to. The purpose is to make it easier to deny women access to contraception and I think that the expectation is that the drugs which will be "objected" to will be contraceptives of various sorts - especially morning-after pills.

This law would fit in well with attempts to give pharmacists the ability to simply refuse to fill any prescriptions they personally object to - so-called "conscience clauses." In those situations, though, there is the possibility of another pharmacist being on duty who can fill the disputed prescription. Under the new Republican measure, however, that would be eliminated entirely.

If the bill were to become law, pharmacies across the state would be able to keep all forms of contraception off the shelves; meaning, even if a woman has a prescription from her doctor, a pharmacy could make the final decision regarding her health. For women who live in rural areas where pharmacies are few and far between, this legislation would force them to travel unnecessary distances to find a pharmacy willing to fill their prescriptions. Rape victims would be especially hit hard because pharmacies would be able to deny them emergency contraception.

This is just the latest battle being waged by Missouri Republicans against contraception. Last month, a federal judge struck down a Missouri law exempting employers from providing contraception to their female employees. Missouri Republicans continued their war on women, introducing a bill designed to allow doctors and hospitals to refuse to provide reproductive services to women. Apparently the pharmacy bill is insurance for Republicans. If they can't allow doctors to deny women birth control, they will give pharmacies the ability to do just that.

Source: Addicting Info

There can, on occasion, be valid medical reasons to not fill a prescription for contraception - like, for example, a dangerous interaction with other drugs a woman is taking. Personal objections, religious or secular, are not valid reasons to fill any prescription, including prescriptions for contraception. No pharmacist, nurse, or doctor has the authority to decide that contraceptives are immoral and should not be dispensed, either in general or to particular women.

What still amazes me, though, is how some people continue to take at face value the various excuses, explanations, and rationalizations which Republicans try to give for laws like this. No one who has been paying the least bit of attention to politics over the past decade or so can fail to have noticed the diverse and consistent efforts to block women's access to sexual and reproductive healthcare: abortion, contraception, health screenings, vaccines, etc.

April 19, 2013 at 11:06 am
(1) Conservative Atheist says:

It’s fine to want women to have universal access to contraception, or whatever else, but I don’t see what gives govt the power to compel a business to provide a product or service. If a business dosn’t want to carry a particular product, or serve a particular person (of group of people), that’s their right. The consumer can just patronize a competing business that will do so consensually.

April 19, 2013 at 6:19 pm
(2) Austin Cline says:

It s fine to want women to have universal access to contraception, or whatever else, but I don t see what gives govt the power to compel a business to provide a product or service.

Pharmacies are closely regulated. They exist to provide access to prescribed medication and that’s it. If a person doesn’t want to provide that access, they don’t have to get a license to operate a pharmacy.

If a business dosn t want to carry a particular product, or serve a particular person (of group of people), that s their right.


The consumer can just patronize a competing business that will do so consensually.

You’re assuming one exists.

April 19, 2013 at 6:51 pm
(3) Mikko says:

Christians are trying to get “conscience clauses” in to Swedish hospitals and pharmacies

April 19, 2013 at 9:13 pm
(4) Sven says:

These people are disgraceful! Your job as a pharmacist is to dispense medication,not to assume the role of a physician. A customer presents a prescription and you fill it. That’s it. If your tortured “morality” has a problem with that, you either find another occupation or deal with it. I’m so weary of these “righteous” loons who think they’re doing “God’s Will” by disobeying Federal Law. The prescription is between a doctor and a patient-the pharmacist is only there to give the customer the pills.If that’s a problem,find another job or move to a theocracy like Saudi Arabia where you’d fit like a glove!

April 20, 2013 at 1:14 pm
(5) Katie says:

I sure as hell don’t see anyone trying to prevent prescriptions for Viagra, and that, unlike birth control, isn’t used for multiple healthcare reasons. But that’s different, right?

April 20, 2013 at 8:45 pm
(6) retiredwheezer says:

On Feb.22, 2012 a Federal District Court Judge in the State of Washington ruled that a pharmacist cannot be required to stock and dispense the so-called Plan B birth control pill if he has a moral objection to abortifacients, according to OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY.

The federal judge ruled that pharmacists cannot be forced by state rules to sell “morning-after” contraceptives, also known as Plan B.
The case has been active for more than four years and started when two pharmacists, Margo Thelen and Rhonda Mesler, at Ralph’s Thriftway pharmacy in Olympia denied a woman the Plan B pill based on their religious opposition to it.

Here in Missouri this bill will likely pass the Mo. House and be vetoed by Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon. The problem is that an overwhelming swarm of Republicans in the Mo. Congress will vote to override Nixon’s veto.

April 26, 2013 at 5:06 pm
(7) NYEvie says:

Pharmacists – - and pharmacies – - operate under a state-issued license, for the protection of the public (Joe Shmoe can’t just open a storefront and start dispensing drugs). In the case of licenses to perform services in the public interest, these licenses should be subject to revokation if the public interest is not served.

In the case of pharmacies, if an individual pharmacists does not wish to personally dispense certain medications due to moral objections, I could live with that. What I can’t live with is a pharmacy that does not provide another pharmacist who will handle those cases, or one that will not stock the full line of drugs needed in its service area. This is not serving the public, and the license of such an establishment should be revoked in the public interest.

May 16, 2013 at 6:25 pm
(8) Jeanne says:

Why limit this to pharmacists? Why not allow a Muslim clerk in a supermarket refuse to ring up a customer’s pork chops. Why not let claims processors refuse to process a medical claim for an unwed mother who had a baby because having a baby out-of-wedlock is against the processor’s religion? Why not allow a Catholic server to refuse to take an order for meat on Friday? After all, pharmacists are not the only ones with “morals”.

If a person’s morals are strong enough that they cannot to what a job entails, their morals should be strong enough to find a job that does not require them to compromise those morals, even if it pays less. After all, isn’t honesty part of being a moral person? How honest is for a person it to accept a job knowing that they cannot do what the job requires and expect to be able to opt-out whenever they feel a twinge on conscience?

June 3, 2013 at 7:23 pm
(9) Marvin says:

I’m glad I came back to look. Good comment, Jeanne.

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