On Target

Remember the Target pharmacist in Fenton, Missouri who refused to dispense emergency contraception?
Fashionable, pro-choice discount shoppers rejoice! Target seems to have responded to the deluge of letters they received. The store now requires its pharmacists to sign a “conscience policy” – in which they agree to fill or refer EC prescriptions.
And what about employees who refuse to sign the policy? They’re fired. A pharmacist at a different Missouri Target store has filed a complaint with the equal-employment opportunity commission because she was axed for failing to agree to dispense or refer prescriptions for EC.
The pharmacist says Target fired her because Planned Parenthood threatened to boycott. True, some letter-writers may have refused to shop there, but Planned Parenthood says they never called for a boycott. Rather, they attempted to work with Target to change the store’s pharmacy policy. Paula Gianino, of Planned Parenthood in St. Louis, praised Target’s commitment to filling EC prescriptions.
However, this would seem to contradict Planned Parenthood’s online action center, which still has an alert saying Target has been uncooperative.
Anti-choice lawmakers have entered the fray. The hideous Missouri Governor Matt Blunt is pushing legislation that would prevent pharmacies from firing or disciplining pharmacists who refuse to fill EC prescriptions.
A similar battle is raging in Missouri’s neighbor to the east, Illinois– whose governor, thankfully, is not quite so repulsive.

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8 Comments

  1. Posted January 30, 2006 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

    One bright side to the “fight against EC” is that it will get more media attention.
    While many Americans may not be 100% pro-choice, most of them are probably OK with EC, once they know what it is. But it’s not a well-known or well-understood issue (for example, many people mix it up with RU-487).

  2. noname
    Posted January 30, 2006 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

    I don’t understand how the state can legislate against firing these employees. If EC is legal, and Target wants to sell it, don’t employees have to comply? It’s like the government protecting waiters who refuse to sell french fries (would that make sense?).

  3. Posted January 30, 2006 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

    though i’d like to happy about this firing, it’s not good enough for pharmacists to refer women to other pharmacies. it’s discrimination. i’m sure these busybody “christians” fill men’s viagra prescriptions with only a little bit of a snicker.
    so they simply MUST SERVE WOMEN’S HEALTH CARE NEEDS. every time. nothing else will do.

  4. Andie
    Posted January 30, 2006 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

    Good for Target! I mean seriously, why would anyone not sign those waivers? Fine, you dont want to dispense it, but theres no reason that you cant tell a woman where to go elsewhere! Some people are nuts.

  5. st3ph
    Posted January 30, 2006 at 11:23 pm | Permalink

    Target’s policy has been to require its pharmacists to either fill or refer EC prescriptions all along — or at least since last October when I had my e-mail war with them after Planned Parenthood first called our attention to Target. “Refer elsewhere” meaning send the patient trying to get their prescription filled to a different store, which might be far away, difficult for the patient to get to, or might also wind up refusing to fill the prescription.
    So, Planned Parenthood’s website is correct – nothing has changed. Target does NOT have a policy that ensures prescriptions are filled in-store, without discrimination or delay. Their “conscience policy” still makes discrimination and delay perfectly a-OK — Target only fires employees who won’t sign the policy at all.
    Personally, I do not think that a policy that allows pharmacists to refuse legal, doctor-prescribed medications to women — and only women — is anything worth celebrating or commending Target for in any way.

  6. Posted January 30, 2006 at 11:34 pm | Permalink

    First off, a pharmacist’s job is to dispense drugs that a doctor prescribes in a timely and accurate manner. If people can’t fulfill that one important role in all circumstances, s/he shouldn’t be a pharmacist. There are plenty of other careers out there.
    Second, I happen to live in a place where there are lots of pharmacies (in fact, I don’t actually know where there’s a Target, but I’m sure there is one). But there are lots of places in the U.S. where someone might have a lot of trouble getting to any other pharmacy — other options might be many miles (even hours) away, or might not be on public transit routes. Referrals are not an appropriate solution in many cases.
    One of the problems is, of course, that if Target is the only pharmacy you can get to, it may also be the only place you can buy dish soap, an iron, or tube socks, so even voting with your feet is out.

  7. bear
    Posted January 31, 2006 at 12:10 am | Permalink

    Any area large enough to have a Target store is going to have other options (drug stores, grocery stores, Wal-mart if they carry it, etc.). Sending people elsewhere isn’t right (where does it stop if pharmacists can arbitrarily decide to not fill prescriptions), but there should be somewhere nearby to go to. You could have a more severe problem if several/all pharmacists in a certain area decided not to fill the prescription though.

  8. Posted January 31, 2006 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    Exactly, bear. What if all those stores have a “referral” policy? I could be driving around in circles all day.
    We have a right to get our prescriptions filled without driving to six places and without emptying our gas tank and without having to deal with self-righteous after self-righteous pharmacist sending us on our un-merry way at each stop.
    It’s crap to allow them to “refer” you elsewhere. At the very least, if a pharmacy has a wingnut on-staff who won’t fill a prescription, they ought to be required to also staff, at the same time, a non-wingnut who WILL fill it.
    That way it would COST them twice as much to pander to wingnuts and their discriminatory policies.

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