June 1, 2007

Pharmacy in Great Falls, MT denies woman oral contraceptives

Posted in Civil rights, Feminism, Reproduction at 4:56 pm by The Lizard Queen

From Planned Parenthood’s Save Roe! blog:

Last week I heard about a woman in Great Falls, Montana, who went to her local, privately owned pharmacy, Snyder Drug, to fill her birth control prescription. When she went to the pharmacy counter, she received a slip of paper signed by the pharmacy owners (Stuart Anderson, Kurt Depner and Kori Depner) stating that the pharmacy would no longer fill birth control prescriptions.

Adding insult to injury, the note goes onto say that they pharmacy will “continue to serve your prescription needs with utmost care and trust.” The customer, who happens to be a 49-year-old woman who is unable to conceive and uses birth control for a medical condition, called the pharmacy and asked one of the owners why the pills were being discontinued. The owner told her that birth control pills are dangerous for women.

The trouble is, even were all other things equal (which they’re not — read more on that below), there are a number of women, this woman being just one example, out there who take oral contraceptives for reasons other than birth control. Some examples: preventing ovarian cysts, treating androgenetic alopecia (female pattern baldness), and clearing up acne. My impression is that this move by the owners of Snyder drug is legal (given that they’re a private business), just not exactly ethical or intelligent. It would be one thing for a pharmacist to refuse to dispense a drug because of a possible dangerous interaction; it’s quite another to do so because of moral objections. What’s to prevent them from deciding not to stock psychotropic medications because they believe “that these problems should be addressed spiritually” (from this article)? From whence comes a pharmacist’s right to impose his or her morality on a customer?

The PP blog entry continues:

News flash to the owners of Snyder Drug — the maternal death rate has fallen more than 60 percent since 1965, when the Supreme Court constitutionally protected the use of birth control in the United States. And if that isn’t enough, the infant death rate has declined by more than 70 percent. Birth control is basic health care for women. Not only does it save lives, it helps women and their families prevent poverty and plan their futures. It is mind-boggling to me that women in this country are still denied the right to choose when and whether to have a child.

To conclude, I just want to reiterate one of those points: Birth control is basic health care for women.

[h/t to Echidne]



  1. Evil Bender said,

    I would argue that even private pharmacies should not be allowed to refuse to dispense medication for moral objections. When you work in public health, not liking someone’s choice is not sufficient reason to deny them service. Their ideology does not trump another human’s health.

  2. I agree, of course — I was merely commenting on the legality. Makes me think of the tried-and-true disclaimer, “The establishment reserves the right to refuse service to anyone.” And naturally I could be wrong, which is why I used the phrase “my impression is…”. 🙂

  3. Witchy Women said,

    I support their decision and give them credit for standing up for something they believe in!!!

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