For a PDF version of the fact sheet see below.
Prescription Contraception is Basic Health Care for Women
- Family planning is central to good health care for women. Access to contraception is critical to preventing unintended pregnancies and to enabling women to control the timing and spacing of their pregnancies. Contraceptive use in the United States is virtually universal among women of reproductive age. A woman who wants only two children must use contraception for roughly three decades of her life. Also, women rely on prescription contraceptives for a range of medical purposes in addition to birth control, such as regulation of cycles and endometriosis.
- Emergency contraception (EC), also known as the morning after pill, is an FDA-approved form of contraception that prevents pregnancy after sexual intercourse. EC is a time-sensitive medication that has great potential to prevent unintended pregnancies. Currently, there are three types of emergency contraception available: a prescription drug, an over-the-counter drug, and a copper intrauterine device (IUD) inserted by a health care provider.
Refusal to Dispense Contraception are Increasing
- Reports of pharmacies refusing to fill prescriptions for birth control—or provide EC—have surfaced in at least twenty-five states across the nation, including: AZ, CA, DC, GA, IL, LA, MA, MI, MN, MO, MT, NH, NJ, NY, NC, OH, OK, OR, RI, TN, TX, VA, WA, WV, WI.
- These refusals to dispense prescription contraceptives or provide EC are based on personal beliefs, not on legitimate medical or professional concerns. The same pharmacies that refuse to dispense contraceptives because of personal beliefs often refuse to transfer a woman’s prescription or refer her to another pharmacy. These refusals can have devastating consequences for women’s health.
- Despite the fact one type of EC is available without a prescription, refusals based on personal beliefs are still a problem. Some stores prefer to keep non-prescription EC behind the counter or in locked cases, so individuals seeking it must interact with pharmacists or other pharmacy staff who may have personal beliefs against providing the drug.
- Some examples of refusals in the pharmacy:
- April 2012: Andrew Andrade attempted to purchase EC at a Jersey City, New Jersey Rite Aid for his girlfriend who was at work but he was turned away, even hough the FDA rules allow men to buy EC.
- November 2010: Adam Drake attempted to purchase non-prescription EC at a Walgreens in Houston, Texas and was turned away, despite the fact he should have been allowed to purchase the medication.
- March 2010: A pharmacy that refused to stock or dispense contraceptives in Chantilly, Virginia closed due to lack of business. When it opened in October 2008, staff at the pharmacy refused to provide referrals or help individuals find contraception elsewhere.
- January 2010: A mother of two in Montclair, California went to her local CVS to purchase EC after she and her fiancé experienced a birth control failure. The pharmacist refused to dispense EC to her, even though it was in stock, and told her to “come back in two and a half days,” at which point it would no longer be effective.
- May 2007: In Great Falls, Montana, a 49-year-old woman who used birth control to treat a medical condition went to her local pharmacy to fill her latest prescription. She was given a slip of paper informing her that the pharmacy would no longer fill any prescriptions for birth control. When she called back to inquire about the policy change, the owner of the pharmacy told her that birth control was “dangerous” for women.
- January 2007: In Columbus, Ohio, a 23-year-old mother went to her local Wal-Mart for EC. The pharmacist on staff “shook his head and laughed.” She was told that even though the store stocked EC, no one on staff would sell it to her. She had to drive 45 miles to find another pharmacy that would provide her with EC.
- December 2006: In Seattle, Washington, a 25-year-old woman