Refusals at the Pharmacy: What You Can Do if Faced with a Religious Refusal at the Pharmacy

Document Date: April 17, 2007

Religious Refusals and Reproductive Rights: Accessing Birth Control at the Pharmacy
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Each year, millions of people purchase birth control at their local pharmacies. News reports increasingly include stories about pharmacists or pharmacies refusing to sell contraception based on a religious objection.

If you believe that you have been treated unfairly by a pharmacist or at a pharmacy, you can file a complaint with the state board of pharmacy. State boards of pharmacy regulate both pharmacists and pharmacies and work to protect the health and welfare of consumers. All 50 states and the District of Columbia have complaint procedures for consumers, and contact information for various pharmacy boards can be found by visiting the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy’s Web site.

What to expect after filing a complaint: The board of pharmacy will investigate your complaint, evaluate whether the individual pharmacist or pharmacy acted unprofessionally or otherwise violated the state pharmacy code, and possibly pursue disciplinary action. Filing a complaint will also put the board of pharmacy on notice that there is a problem in the state, and may prompt the board to issue guidance on how to ensure that women can access birth control at the pharmacy.

For assistance filing a complaint in any state or exploring other legal options based on a service denial stemming from a religious objection, please contact the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project at or (212) 549-2633.

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