Pharmacy protects women from contraception

A woman is denied birth control pills because her pharmacy says they're dangerous.

Published May 31, 2007 8:20PM (EDT)

Lest some of us assume that the antiabortion foot soldiers can touch us only if we (or one of our loved ones) a) become pregnant with an unwanted pregnancy and b) encounter obstacles to getting an abortion, a pharmacy in Montana reminds us that the antiabortion movement is a slippery slope toward 19th century atavism.

Hyperbole? Hell no. Wednesday Broadsheet received an e-mail from Planned Parenthood about a woman going to Snyder Drugs of Great Falls, Mont., to fill a birth control prescription, only to be given a slip of paper explaining that the pharmacy (recently bought by Stuart Anderson and Kurt and Kori Depner) would no longer be filling birth control prescriptions -- though it would "continue to serve your prescription needs with utmost care and trust."

The irony is that the woman is 49 years old and unable to conceive, but uses the birth control pills for a medical condition. When the woman called the pharmacy to inquire why the pills were being discontinued, the owners claimed that the pills are dangerous for women.

In case you're wondering if the new owners are just better informed about newly discovered side effects of birth control pills, a Mother's Day ad recently taken out in the Great Falls Tribune by Anderson Family Pharmacy -- also owned by Stuart Anderson with his wife, Kyla -- should dispel any lingering doubts about the motivation behind the policy change.

"The sanctity of human life has always been one of our most cherished heritages. The family unit is the foundation of our society. The devotion and sacrifice of mothers over the years and the continual care and concern for their unborn has [sic] been the cornerstone of the family. On this Mother's Day 2007, we wish to express our gratitude to all mothers for their unselfishness in our behalf. As health-care professionals, we call upon the American people to once again reaffirm the right to life for future generations of the unborn and join with us in our efforts to restore respect, dignity and value to each human life -- born or unborn."

Of course, anti-contraceptive activists have been rearing their pinheads in all manner of realms. Even our birth control czar was one until Eric J. Keroack resigned amid allegations of Medicaid fraud. (Now, according to a killer bit of investigative reporting by Raw Story, it seems he may have gotten his federal job based on fraudulent qualifications as well. He claimed to have been in private practice for 20 years, but other documents suggest it was closer to five years; his much-touted experience as "medical director" for nonprofit group A Woman's Concern looks as if it may have been a part-time volunteer position.)

That anti-birth-control pharmacists are laying down new policies that prevent women from getting ordinary birth control pills -- medication that is prescribed for a variety of reasons -- goes way beyond the abortion debate and deserves loads of derision. So herewith Monty Python's unforgettable show tune:

Every sperm is sacred.
Every sperm is great.
If a sperm is wasted,
God gets quite irate.

By Carol Lloyd

Carol Lloyd is currently at work on a book about the gentrification wars in San Francisco's Mission District.

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