A reader’s girlfriend tried to buy Plan B yesterday, but the Oxford, MS Walgreens pharmacy seemed to go out of their way to make it has hard as possible. Mere incompetence doesn’t explain what happened. Instead, it sounds more like a consciously decided system of policies designed to discourage people from buying the pill…
The reader writes:
I live in Oxford, MS, and my girlfriend and I researched the availability of Plan B in this state. We knew there might some puritanical problems with purchasing it here in Mississippi – we have all kinds of arcane alcohol laws and only one abortion clinic in the state, after all – and from what we could tell, a pharmacist can refuse to sell Plan B to a woman on religious/moral grounds. But otherwise pharmacies do carry it, and it should be available to a woman as long as she can prove she is over age 18. As this is a university town and a top-ranked party school, we supposed it wouldn’t be as hard to get Plan B as in other really small, ultra-conservative rural towns. And we also figured that a corporate pharmacy such as Walgreens would be less troublesome to deal with than a mom-and-pop one.
Well, the other day we decided to be extra-safe and to get the Plan B pill from Walgreens here in town. My girlfriend went and requested Plan B, equipped with the knowledge that it’s a non-prescription drug available with ID. She said the pharmacy worker started asking for proof of insurance in order to get the pill. My girlfriend refused and asked to speak to someone in charge. The pharmacist then came, and my girlfriend told him she simply wanted Plan B and that her ID should be good enough. The pharmacist then went about getting the pill, but they also seem to have a policy, a lá abortion clinics, of forcing a waiting period of an hour and giving adoption literature to the person requesting the contraceptive. Now, Plan B is just an additional spermicide, not an abortion pill, but that’s another can of worms. In the end, my girlfriend demanded the Plan B immediately, and she got it, but not without a fair amount of interference on Walgreens’ part. They also insisted on writing down her driver’s license number.
I’m wondering how much trouble other people may have had with Walgreens (or any other pharmacy) over acquiring Plan B. There are several other Red States that make allowances for the pharmacists’ “moral concerns” to get in the way of getting Plan B. What are our rights in getting this pill right away? Walgreens’ website didn’t indicate that they could possibly get all high-and-mighty with her when she went to make the purchase. Could they also get uppity when you buy other kinds of contraception?