Sunday, November 30, 2008

Plan B

Some people who know me may know that I have not shopped at Target for about the last three years. That's right! No Target. At some point I became aware that Target had a policy that if any of its pharmacists had "moral problems" with dispensing the so-called "morning after pill," Plan B, that pharmacy could refuse to fill the scrip. Turn your intercoursing ass away and send you to someone who can put up with you and your medical needs.

For all I knew, any pharmacy company in the U.S. could have exactly the same policy. But Target likes to brand itself as hip, urban, tasteful, and forward-thinking. (This is in contrast to Wal Mart, whose brand is traditional, family-values, and no nonsense.) Good design is for everyone at Target, but good medicine is not. It is important to note that Plan B is birth control. It's not an abortifacient. Birth control is still legal in this country.

This really pissed me off. Then I read about it again in the always-profane column "Savage Love," by Dan Savage. I contacted Target and told them that this policy amounted to discrimination and that anyone, anytime, anywhere, who had a prescription that was lawful was entitled under the law to have it filled. Here's what they said in reply:

Dear Target Guest

In our ongoing effort to provide great service to our guests, Target consistently ensures that prescriptions for the emergency contraceptive Plan B are filled. As an Equal Opportunity Employer, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 also requires us to accommodate our team members’ sincerely held religious beliefs.

In the rare event that a pharmacist’s beliefs conflict with filling a guest’s prescription for the emergency contraceptive Plan B, our policy requires our pharmacists to take responsibility for ensuring that the guest’s prescription is filled in a timely and respectful manner, either by another Target pharmacist or a different pharmacy.

The emergency contraceptive Plan B is the only medication for which this policy applies.
Under no circumstances can the pharmacist prevent the prescription from being filled, make discourteous or judgmental remarks, or discuss his or her religious beliefs with the guest.

Target abides by all state and local laws and, in the event that other laws conflict with our policy, we follow the law.

We're surprised and disappointed by Planned Parenthood’s negative campaign. We’ve been talking with Planned Parenthood to clarify our policy and reinforce our commitment to ensuring that our guests’ prescriptions for the emergency contraceptive Plan B are filled. Our policy is similar to that of many other retailers and follows the recommendations of the American Pharmacists Association. That’s why it’s unclear why Target is being singled out.

We’re committed to meeting the needs of our female guests and will continue to deliver upon that commitment.


So the only barrier between you and a filled scrip for Plan B at Target was if you were unfortunate to encounter a pharmacist who possessed "sincerely held" religious beliefs against the drug. What if those beliefs were insincere? Would you just give me the damn pills then, you meddling jerk-off?

It was remarkably easy to turn away from Target after this exchange, and it's a habit I'm not prepared to change, in spite of the fact that Plan B is now available without a prescription for women over 18. (I suppose they can still refuse to give it you, even if you have bruises to show them.)

But do I need a "plan B," in light of this new development? I know I don't need new ways to spend money. But I do wonder if there are old habits that I'm hanging onto and can't remember why anymore. Yes, this is the sort of thing having cancer makes you think about.

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