Rep. Maloney, Sen. Lautenberg introduce bill to ensure pharmacies provide access to contraceptives
WASHINGTON, DC – Representative Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and U.S. Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) today introduced the Access to Birth Control (ABC) Act to protect a woman’s fundamental right of access to legal contraception. The bill seeks to stop pharmacies from denying the sale of contraceptives because of a pharmacy employee’s religious beliefs. In recent years, women in at least 24 states across the country have reported incidents where they have been denied access to birth control and emergency contraception.
“98 percent of American women use birth control at some point in their lives. This bill ensures that any woman who wants birth control and has a legal prescription or is seeking over-the-counter emergency contraception will be able to get it,” said Rep. Maloney. “We aim to help stop the alarming trend of some pharmacists refusing to fill birth control prescriptions.”
“Women have the right to make responsible decisions about their reproductive health, yet across the country we have seen this right denied,” said Sen. Lautenberg. “This bill would prevent a pharmacy from standing between a patient and her doctor. By making pharmacy refusals illegal, we can ensure that women have timely access to birth control and are never denied over-the-counter emergency contraception.”
“Five decades after the FDA first approved the birth-control pill, it is unbelievable that American women still face obstacles to accessing this basic medication at the pharmacy counter,” said Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America. “Thankfully, we have strong leaders like Rep. Carolyn Maloney and Sen. Frank Lautenberg who believe in guaranteeing women’s access to contraception. We are proud to work with them to advance this bill and other policies that will improve the lives of women and their families.”
“Birth control is basic health care for women. It is 2010 -- any woman should be able to walk into any pharmacy, anywhere in the country, and get birth control, including emergency contraception, without discrimination or delay,” said Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “Planned Parenthood applauds Sen. Lautenberg and Rep. Maloney for this common sense bill that would ensure any woman who needs birth control is able to get it.”
“This bill is critical because it ensures that every woman will be able to leave her pharmacy with her medication in hand and her dignity intact,” said Marcia D. Greenberger, Co-President of the National Women’s Law Center. “We applaud Senator Lautenberg and Congresswoman Maloney for supporting the fundamental right of women to determine their own futures.”
The Access to Birth Control (ABC) Act would protect the right of individual pharmacists to refuse to fill a prescription, but would also ensure that pharmacies will fill all prescriptions, even if a different pharmacist has to do it. By placing the burden on the pharmacy, the ABC Act strikes a balance between the rights of individual pharmacists who might have personal objections to contraception and the rights of women to receive their medication. In addition, if the requested product is not in stock, but the pharmacy stocks other forms of contraception, the bill mandates that the pharmacy help the woman obtain the medication without delay by the method of her preference: order, referral, or a transferred prescription.