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Committee Hearing Highlights Disturbing Trend of Pharmacists Who Refuse to Fill Prescriptions

Refusal to Fill Valid Birth Control Prescriptions

WASHINGTON, DC Today, the House of Representatives Committee on Small Business held a hearing on the disturbing trend of pharmacists who refuse to fill valid prescriptions for contraception. The hearing highlighted the "Emergency Rule" issued by Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, which requires pharmacies to fill all valid and legal prescriptions without delay.

"Women should never be denied basic health care services by pharmacists who decide to impose their own personal beliefs on others," said Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) Interim President Karen Pearl. "Pharmacists are supposed to facilitate patient care, not act as obstacles to it. It is the patient's medical needs that must come first."

On February 23, 2005, a pharmacist at a Chicago Osco store refused to fill prescriptions for contraception for two women who are patients of Planned Parenthood/Chicago Area (PP/CA). PP/CA registered a complaint with the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. To educate women about the dangerous trend of pharmacist refusals to fill prescriptions and to urge them to take action, PP/CA also organized a protest of nearly a hundred advocates in front of the pharmacy. The rally drew attention to the issue of pharmacist refusals and sparked a public debate about the rights of women to receive basic health care in Illinois and around the country.

A representative from Gov. Blagojevich's office testified at the hearing today, along with representatives from the American Pharmacists Association and one of the Illinois women who was refused her medication. Pharmacist refusals are not limited to Illinois or any particular location. Planned Parenthood has received reports from across the nation of pharmacists refusing to fill women's prescriptions for both regular birth control and emergency contraception.

"This is not an isolated problem, and I hope the committee learns that in today's testimony," stated Pearl. "Pharmacists are refusing to fill prescriptions in New Hampshire, Texas, Wisconsin, and many other states. If a woman and her doctor have already discussed the need for contraception, she should be able to walk into any pharmacy in America and expect to have her prescription filled without unnecessary delays or discrimination. Women should never be denied basic health care services by pharmacists who want to impose their morality on others."

For more information on pharmacist refusals, including a state-by-state guide to major pharmacy chains and their policies, please visit and




Erin Libit (202) 973-4883

Published: 07.25.05 | Updated: 07.25.05

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