Suspended from work over emergency contraception

Walgreens takes a stand -- sort of -- with pharmacists who refuse to dispense the drugs.

By Katharine Mieszkowski

Published December 2, 2005 8:35PM (EST)

Walgreens suspended four pharmacists in the St. Louis area, without pay, for refusing to fill prescriptions for emergency contraception, in violation of a state rule, according to the Kaiser Women's Health Daily Policy Report.

"The four pharmacists, who cited religious or moral beliefs as reasons for declining to dispense EC, 'have said they would like to maintain their right to refuse to dispense,' which is not an option in Illinois, according to Walgreens spokesperson Tiffani Bruce," Kaiser reports. "She added that Walgreens policy states that pharmacists can decline to fill prescriptions on moral grounds in states where the law allows it, but they must refer patients to another pharmacist or store that will fill the prescription. She said the pharmacists will remain on unpaid leave 'until they either decide to abide by Illinois law or relocate to another state' with no rule or law." Thank you, Tiffani.

But if you're boycotting Target this holiday shopping season because of its stance on emergency contraception, don't get all excited about shopping at Walgreens instead. Walgreens is enforcing Illinois law, but its corporate policy on E.C. is no better than Target's. Walgreens still won't guarantee that if a pharmacist at one of its stores refuses to dispense the pills, another one at that same Walgreens will do it.

Here's Planned Parenthood's list of the pharmacies that do and don't have good emergency-contraception policies, so you'll know where to pick up your post-holiday-party painkillers.

Katharine Mieszkowski

Katharine Mieszkowski is a senior writer for Salon.

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