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October 31, 2005

My Letter to Target

According to Planned Parenthood, a Target store pharmacy refused to fill a birth control prescription to a customer in Missouri on September 30. I sent an email through their action page and got a brief, generic letter from Target about how Target respects the diversity of its employees.

Now I've just read about a woman in Arizona who was raped and her prescription for emergency birth control was refused by the pharmacist for "moral" reasons. This decision was supported by the pharmacist manager, who offered to fill the prescription himself, if the young woman and her friend accompanying her could get to the store within 10 minutes - because his shift was ending. This incident happened at a Fry's Food Store pharmacy in Tucson. Arizona doesn't have a shield law protecting pharmacists with delicate consciences, but many of the pharmacies there have corporate policies that allow pharmacists to refuse to fill prescriptions based on moral grounds.

What I'm wondering is why such people are in this profession. Find another career. If denying birth control to women, including women who've just been raped, so offends you, then get out of the field.

I haven't let the horror of this story sink in yet. To divert my attentions, I finally wrote my reply to Target:

I am extremely disappointed with this lackluster response. I have been a loyal Target customer for years. I really enjoy shopping at your stores and I am extremely upset about having to give that up. There was a location that opened near where I live and I was really excited about it. But ever since I learned of the incident at your store pharmacy in Missouri, I have stopped shopping at Target, because I am very angry about your policy.

If your pharmacist is incapable of doing his or her job based on his or her personal beliefs, that is a problem. That person has no business being one of your employees. If a customer comes in with a birth control prescription, written by her doctor, it should be filled without comment. It's one thing if there's a professional concern, such as if the customer is taking other medication and the new medication could interfere with that. I agree with that - your pharmacists SHOULD exercise their professional judgment. But as for their personal judgments, those are irrelevant and SHOULD NOT come into play when a woman comes in to get her prescription filled. What the pharmacist thinks personally is irrelevant!

It is not acceptable to refer the woman to another pharmacist or another pharmacy. What if the store is the only store in town for miles? What if the medication is needed as soon as possible? By allowing this behavior, Target practices bad customer service by interfering with a woman's private choices. Because Target allows its pharmacists to choose not to perform their jobs, jobs which are given state licenses in order to practice, Target chooses to provide substandard service to its customers, which is appalling.

This corporate policy is unacceptable. I don't even care if in this particular incident in Missouri is shielded by state law to protect a pharmacist's conscientious objection. I live in Georgia where such a law exists, and that law is wrong. If your organization can't be bothered to hire professionals who are capable of performing their jobs, then I will have to take my business elsewhere. I have already told friends and family about this, and they feel just as strongly as I do. So you have many disappointed customers who will also be taking their hard-earned money elsewhere because of this policy. I strongly urge you to please reconsider your policy.

Rape victim: 'Morning after' pill denied [Arizona Daily Star, 10/23/05 - via Zeebah]
Call. Call Now. [Bark/Bite via Zeebah]

Yours, &c., LC | 12:42 PM | Politics | TrackBack (0)

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