Congressional Democrats introduced a bill yesterday requiring all pharmacies to provide emergency contraception, regardless of an individual pharmacist’s moral objections. The Access to Birth Control Act, introduced by Representative Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), would prohibit pharmacy employees from threatening or harassing customers or interfering with a woman’s purchase of contraceptives. Feminist Majority President Eleanor Smeal spoke yesterday at a press conference in support of the bill.
Some pharmacies currently allow employees not to sell emergency contraception if the employee claims it offends her or his moral beliefs. Rural women are particularly affected because it is more difficult for them to find another pharmacy that stocks the contraceptives.
Rep. Maloney emphasized that a woman should have the right to choose to use birth control. She said in a statement, “An American woman can decide to put her life on the line for our country in Iraq, but she can be prevented from making basic decisions about her own health here at home.”