A pharmacy in Chantilly, Virginia has become the seventh pharmacy to be officially certified ‘birth control-free’ by anti-choice group Pharmacists for Life International, as reported by the Associated Press. The Divine Mercy Care pharmacy will no longer stock any form of contraception, including morning-after pills, condoms and birth control pills. Pro-choice groups have expressed their concerns that the move is representative of a worrying new trend in anti-choice activism.
Stacey Anderson, director of public affairs for Planned Parenthood of Montana, told Ms., “Right to life agents and churches are pressuring supporters to take their personal lives into their professional responsibilities…I know of no other industry where if you stopped doing your job you’d still keep it.” Lois Uttley, director of the New York-based MergerWatch project, said that she was “dismayed that any pharmacy would adopt a policy of not stocking one of the basic healthcare needs. Pharmacists’ personal moral beliefs should absolutely not dictate what medication is available.”
U.S. pharmacies are currently regulated at state level. Some states, such as Massachusetts, maintain standards for what a pharmacy is expected to stock. The Massachusetts legislation was tested in the class-action lawsuit against Walmart in 2006, when Walmart was found at fault for failing to stock emergency contraception. Pro-choice advocates in states without such regulations are exploring different avenues, both legislative and legal, to deal with pharmacists who not only refuse to dispense birth control but will not refer clients to a pharmacist who will.