In theory, the concept is simple: a woman walks into a pharmacy with a birth-control prescription from her doctor and should walk out with the medication—without intimidation, without delay, without a run-around. But in reality, some pharmacists refuse to fill women’s legally prescribed birth-control prescriptions. Some even go so far as to lecture women, humiliate them in public, or refuse to hand back the prescription after they refuse to fill it.
These pharmacists are emboldened because of laws referred to as refusal laws (sometimes called “conscience” laws), which permit a broad range of individuals and institutions—including hospitals, hospital employees, health-care providers, employers, and insurers—to refuse to provide, pay, counsel or even refer for medical treatment. (For more information about these laws, please see the fact sheet, Refusal Laws: Dangerous for Women’s Health.)