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Backward Policy Allows Pharmacists to Refuse to Serve Customers

WASHINGTON, DC — Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) today condemned the Target Corporation for standing by a company policy that allows pharmacists to refuse to fill valid, legal prescriptions for birth control, including emergency contraception. Over a period of 18 months, PPFA has urged Target to implement a policy that respects the rights of its customers by ensuring that Target pharmacies fill prescriptions in-store, without discrimination or delay. Yesterday Target decided it was unwilling to implement a customer-friendly policy.

"Target prides itself on providing accessible, high-quality design for all, but it does not believe that mission extends to medicine. Women should never be denied legal medications by pharmacists who decide to impose their own personal bias on others," said PPFA Interim President Karen Pearl. "Target's refuse-and-refer policy is unacceptable. Our patients should be able to get prescriptions filled in any store, without discrimination or delay. Kmart, CVS, Costco and others are able to provide this assurance to women — why can't Target? Until Target improves its policy, it will continue to receive a thumbs down from Planned Parenthood."

On September 30, 2005, a Target pharmacist in Fenton, MO, refused to fill a woman's prescription for emergency contraception. In responding to complaints from the public about the incident, Target misrepresented both Planned Parenthood and the woman in its communications. Prior to this refusal incident, Target ignored three requests by Planned Parenthood to clarify its national policy on pharmacists who refuse to fill valid, legal prescriptions for birth control.

"Ninety-eight percent of American women use contraception at some point during their reproductive years," added Pearl. "Women have a right to be treated with dignity and respect when they go to a pharmacy to fill their prescriptions. We continue to hope Target will revise its policy, given the pride it seems to take in customer service. Our patients will be gravely disappointed if Target continues to allow pharmacists to discriminate against the large number of their customers who use contraception."

Pharmacist refusals are a disturbing trend that can jeopardize woman's reproductive health. Denying women timely access to health care is an act of discrimination that could lead to in increased number of unintended pregnancies. For more information on pharmacist refusals, including a state-by-state guide to major pharmacy chains and their policies, please visit www.fillmypillsnow.org.



Planned Parenthood Federation of America


Erin Libit (202) 973-4883


May 12, 2014