Pharmacy Fail. No really, please fail.

I found this video in an article entitled The Evangelical Christian Movement – Goals and Methods over at Feministe:

I’m trying to unpack how I feel about this. I’ve got a couple of thoughts rolling around in my head:

1) This company has every right to be doing what they’re doing. This is an overtly Christian-oriented business whose owners and employees are imposing their particular brand of morality on customers who choose to shop there, but they’re not (I don’t think) doing anything illegal.

2) I hope that the free market pushes this custom pharmacy out of business; it spreads lies about birth control medication and to me that means you’re failing at being a pharmacy.

3) The reporter tells us there is a full-service CVS in the area, so there is at least one place where people who don’t support the dinkus anti-choice pharmacists can go to get their prescriptions filled.

4) It’s an indoctrination camp – the story of the Mom who takes her five little soldiers for Christ children to the Christian pharmacy to teach them that there are medicines that will “kill a baby in the womb”, but that this pharmacy doesn’t sell those medicines, so this pharmacy is a good pharmacy – is chill-inducing. It’s not like these poor kids won’t get this message shoved down their throats elsewhere, but a brick-and-mortar store helps widen the divide between religiosity and reality.

5) Pharmacists employed in a community setting that serves the public should not have the option to refuse to serve the public. If the drug is on the shelves, and a pharmacist is the only pharmacist on duty, and a person comes in with a prescription from their doctor, they should be required to dispense it. This goes double for areas that may only have one pharmacy in the vicinity. I know I’m not providing a legal case for why I think this should be, that this is a “that’s just not fair!” statement. But women should not have to rush around from pharmacy to pharmacy to get a doctor’s prescription filled.

So what is the legal argument?

What is the law that requires private businesses to serve people equally, e.g., which prevents an owner from refusing service to based on race, etc? It’s not the Equal Access Act, right? That one just passed in 1984 and according to Wikipedia appears to apply to federally-funded secondary schools. Is there an argument in here that refusing to dispense birth control to women is a violation of equal access?

Pharmacy Fail. No really, please fail.
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17 thoughts on “Pharmacy Fail. No really, please fail.

  1. 1

    Having multiple pharmacies doesn’t always help. My brother is a pharmacist and he tells me that sometimes it’s difficult to re-order if supply is short because of a changeover in medications or due to distribution problems. Also, if certain medications don’t sell well they are dropped from the inventory. When you factor in the limited means of the majority of pharmacy customers that are on Medicare, Medicaid or some other kind of assistance it gets much more costly to keep running around to get prescriptions filled. Add in people’s ignorance of their insurance coverage, regulating controlled substances, overworked and/or underinformed doctors who can’t or don’t keep up with the available medications, understaffed pharmacies and technical glitches and refusing medication on ideological grounds becomes even more absurd.

  2. 3

    My basic understanding, given that I’m not a lawyer and there are variations among state regulations, is that there is no legal requirement that any business must sell any specific product. However, if the business does sell a product, the employees of that business can not refuse to dispense that product based on their personal moral objections.

    A grocery store is under no obligation to sell pop. If it does, it can decide to sell only Coke or only Pepsi and is under no obligation to stock both. If they do stock both, a cashier may not refuse to sell Coke products simply because they favor Pepsi. Likewise, a cashier can not refuse to sell any pop simply because they object to its lack of nutritional value.

  3. 4

    Is there a professional requirement for pharmacists to make legally prescribed drugs available? I know here in PEI, it is not uncommon for an uncommon drug to not be stocked, but it is nearly always available the next day.

  4. 6

    I’m more concerned about them spreading false and misleading information about legal health products. When a person in a position of authority (pharmacist) is intentionally lying about what a product can/can’t do, I would hope there would be some legal recourse to deal with that kind of situation.

    I’m guessing there isn’t, but that kind of thing is scary. At least I can see how the anti-choice locations get away with their peddled lies by also saying, if you really push and read the fine print, that they aren’t actually trained medical professionals.

  5. 7

    I would worry that if you are in some small town has nineteen churches and two pharmacies, the big chain store that will properly fill all legal prescriptions and the pills for the pious store that only good Christians shop at, well if you use the pharmacy at the latter you might as well grab some lipstick while you are there and draw an “A” on your shirt.

    1. 8.1

      Your generalization annoys me.

      In your first link CVS corporate apologized for the incident. CVS as a company does not restrict access to the medications they supply. They also provide information about contraception on their website ( Also in the first link, which deals with emergency contraception being denied to a male customer, CVS had this statement:

      CVS/pharmacy’s policy is to follow FDA regulations for the sale of emergency contraception and it is our pharmacists’ responsibility to ensure that all customer needs are promptly and completely satisfied. As such, there is no company policy that prevents the sale of emergency contraception to a male customer. Under federal law and some state laws, we must also accommodate a religious conviction that may prevent a pharmacist from dispensing a medication, provided that other arrangements can be made in advance to ensure the customer’s medication needs can be satisfied.

      And in the second link (which is to a news story that is seven years old) the article clearly places the blame on state laws that allow pharmacists to refuse to dispense, not a specific policy of CVS.

      The religious pharmacy has a specific philosophy and policies against birth control. CVS had employees who refused to dispense. Your first example seems like an incident of dinkusness on the part of the employee, so hopefully she was disciplined, but in states that protect pharmacist’s right to refuse birth control on moral grounds I’m guessing CVS can’t discipline them. Blame the legislation, not the company that is required to follow the law.

  6. 9

    Did they say they would sell *no* drugs that would harm a fetus? None at all? Nothing teratogenic even if it treats some other problem and isn”t supposed to be taken by pregnant women or women who might become pregnant? Since these women don’t have a choice about not getting pregnant while taking those drugs, I guess not.

    No Paxil, no Prozac, no anti-cancer drugs, no anti-seizure meds? Somehow I doubt it.


  7. 10

    I find it disgusting that any pharmacist can refuse to dispense prescription medication without losing their licence.

    I contacted all my local pharmacies recently asking if the did this. I stated in the message that I wanted to make an informed decision about whether to give them my custom.

  8. 11

    I would think that if a state licensed pharmacy refused to fill a legal prescription, its license would be lifted. And that would be the end of that nonsense!

    Gwynnyd makes an interesting point: many medications, both prescription and OTC, can harm foetuses or cause miscarriages. Does this pharmacist not stock them? Or perhaps women can’t buy them? Or does he demand an affidavit of non-pregnancy from women before they can get hold of these medications?

    Anyway, I hope his little business venture rapidly goes bankrupt.

    1. 11.1

      I’ve read that some of these pro-lifers have gotten control of state pharmacy boards and made it just A-OK for pharmacists in those states to refuse service to anyone on “moral grounds”. Too lazy to Google(tm).

  9. 12

    it spreads lies about birth control medication and to me that means you’re failing at being a pharmacy

    That means more to me. We’ve got truth in advertising laws for a reason. Willfully spreading misinformation to customers should not be a legal right of companies.

    1. 12.1

      I second this whole-heartedly. Kill babies in the womb? Excuse me? Condoms and birth control pills do no such thing, and how dare they pretend otherwise. Being anti-birth control isn’t being pro-life, it’s being pro-“if you have sex it must be for making babies.”

      Even if you bring Plan B into the picture, the notion that it is an abortifacient is probably incorrect:

      See the source for that article for more information and links:

  10. 13

    This is a tough one for me. Yes, pharmacists are humans and come with all the different belief systems that come along with being human. But then again, if you have a legal prescription from your medical provider, and want to fill it…what then?
    I have heard (rumors) of women trying to fill prescriptions for medications like the “morning after pill” and not only would the pharmacist not fill it, but would not return the prescription so the woman could fill it at another pharmacy. Now that is definitely over the line. Again, only rumor.
    But how far can it go? Can someone who is anti-gay refuse to rent an apartment to a gay couple? It’s really hard to say where that line is between personal belief and responsibility to the community that you serve.

  11. 14

    Navigator @13 asked:

    But how far can it go? Can someone who is anti-gay refuse to rent an apartment to a gay couple?


    In the United States, there is no federal law against such discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, but at least twenty-one states and many major cities have enacted laws prohibiting it. See, for example, Washington House Bill 2661.

    In 2012, The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity issued a regulation to prohibit LGBT discrimination in federally-assisted housing programs. The new regulations ensure that the Department’s core housing programs are open to all eligible persons, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

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