Wal-Mart, finally caving to opposition, will start selling the Plan B morning-after pill at its pharmacies across the nation this week. The decision comes after the Massachusetts Pharmacy Board determined that Wal-Mart was required to sell the pill in its 44 Massachusetts pharmacies, after a similar ruling in Illinois.
However, Wal-Mart’s critics still aren’t happy with the way they’re handling the distribution of the morning-after pill. Wal-Mart has decided to make whether or not a pharmacist will dispense it up to the moral beliefs of the pharmacist in question. If he refuses to dispense it, he is to advise patients to a local pharmacy that will supply it to them. Critics claim that since Wal-Mart has driven so many small pharmacies out of business, some people have “no choice” but to go to Wal-Mart for the Plan-B pill.
We’re skeptical of that. Are there really no other pharmacies within driving distance of Wal-Mart’s all-consuming maw? Also, there does seem to be something reasonable about not forcing a pharmacist who believes strongly that abortion is wrong into dispensing what he would consider to be an abortion pill. This pill, after all, has moral connotations that no other medication really has. Conscience clauses are legally provided to pharmacists in a large number of states, which seems to indicate that Wal-Mart simply couldn’t legally force pharmacists to distribute a medication when it violates their moral or religious beliefs. On the other hand, should pharmacists really have the power to refuse treatment that a doctor has prescribed?
Wal-Mart to Begin Dispensing “Morning After” Pill This Week [Consumer Affairs]