Wal-Mart To Carry EC But Not Require All Pharmacists to Dispense It
In a partial victory for women, Wal-Mart has announced that it will now carry emergency contraception (EC) in all of its pharmacies, complying with a February 14 ruling of the Massachusetts Board of Pharmacy that forced the company to do so in that state. However, Wal-Mart’s policy will allow individual pharmacists to refuse to dispense the medication, leaving open the possibility that women will still not have access to a drug that has been prescribed for them.
The February 14 ruling in Massachusetts came after three women, Katrina McCarty, Julia Battel, and Dr. Rebekah Gee, sued Wal-Mart after attempting to purchase emergency contraception at suburban locations and were told that the store did not sell it and it could not be ordered. Announcing the decision to stock Plan B, a brand of EC, the vice president of Wal-Mart’s Pharmacy, Ron Chomiuk, stated, “We feel it is difficult to justify being the country’s only major pharmacy chain not selling it.”
However, as Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, stated, “In many communities, Wal-Mart is the only pharmacy, so timely access is critical” and the decision to excuse pharmacists from filling prescriptions for EC means that the company is “placing the burden on women.”
Wal-Mart currently faces the largest sex discrimination lawsuit in history and has a history of anti-women practices.
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The Affordable Care Act requires all new health insurance plans to cover all FDA-approved contraceptives - such as the pill, emergency contraceptives, and IUDs - without charging co-pays, deductibles or co-insurance. . . .
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SisterReach, a grassroots organization focused on "empowering, organizing, and mobilizing women and girls in the community around their reproductive and sexual health to make informed decisions about themselves," organized the press conference "to call attention to the unique concerns Black and poor communities throughout Shelby County and across the state of Tennessee face on a daily basis" and to emphasize how the upcoming election "could further limit [black women's] reproductive, economic, political, and social autonomy."
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