No refills for you

The New York Civil Liberties Union files a complaint against three pharmacists who refused to dispense refills of emergency contraception.

Published August 17, 2006 8:01PM (EDT)

The New York Civil Liberties Union filed a complaint on Tuesday against three pharmacists in upstate New York claiming that the pharmacists "refused to fill prescriptions for refill doses of emergency contraception," the Associated Press reports. What is particularly striking about this case -- as opposed to the run-of-the-mill pharmacists who refuse to fill E.C. -- is that the women needed refills.

The pharmacists apparently had no religious or moral objections to E.C. the first time around; it was that second time that proved the women's behavior was "irresponsible" as Andrea Barcomb, a CVS supervisor, put it to the AP. (Actually, it seems to us that taking preventive measures as soon as possible to avoid unwanted pregnancy is the very definition of responsibility.) As Elisabeth Benjamin, director of NYCLU's Reproductive Rights program, told the AP, "these refusals seem to just be based solely on moralistic assumptions of women's sexuality."

Mike DeAngelis, a spokesman for the CVS where two of the pharmacists work, told the AP that company policy is to "fill all legally prescribed medications, including emergency contraception, in a timely manner ... If a pharmacist has a religious conviction that would prevent them from filling (emergency contraception) they have to make a request for that consideration before they are in a position to fill it."

The AP, summarizing the NYCLU complaint, explains that "because women often need emergency contraception on evenings and weekends when most doctors' offices and clinics are closed, many providers give women advance prescriptions so they'll be able to take the drug as soon as possible  To be most effective, the pill should be taken within 72 hours of having unprotected sex."

Once again, all of this could have been easily avoided if E.C. were available over the counter, where women have complete control and discretion over their decisions.

By Sarah Goldstein

Sarah Goldstein is an editorial fellow at Salon.

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