Walgreens Assures Women Equal Access to Birth Control at Pharmacies

Affiliate: ACLU of New Mexico
January 22, 2013 3:09 pm

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ACLU of New Mexico
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ALBUQUERQUE, NM—Today, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of New Mexico announced that Walgreen Co. has given the organization assurance that individual pharmacists’ personal religious beliefs will not prevent customers from filling their birth control prescriptions at any of their pharmacies nationwide. The ACLU of New Mexico, the Southwest Women’s Law Center (SWLC) and Walgreen Co. have been in discussions since a pharmacist at an Albuquerque Walgreens location refused to fill the birth control prescriptions of two women due to his religious beliefs. The ACLU of New Mexico and SWLC believe that this act constitutes sex discrimination and is unlawful under the New Mexico Human Rights Act.

Walgreens has assured the ACLU of New Mexico and SWLC that it will take steps to ensure that women receive the appropriate care regardless of the individual beliefs of its employees.

…Walgreens policy is and always has been to provide the highest quality of customer service by filling all prescriptions, including birth control medications, in a prompt and courteous manner…Having said that, we must recognize that there may exist pharmacists who object to filling certain prescriptions based on their religious, moral or ethical beliefs. To balance the needs of our pharmacists and our customers, Walgreens has developed appropriate policies and procedures for our pharmacies to assure that these prescriptions, for example, birth control, are handled as efficiently as other prescriptions without imposing any burden on the customer…

The company has also assured the ACLU and the SWLC that Walgreens pharmacy staff has a thorough understanding of corporate policies and procedures related to such matters, having conducted follow-up training with store personnel following the incidents in Albuquerque.

The ACLU of New Mexico will continue to confirm that their non-discrimination policy is functioning effectively.

“We applaud Walgreen Co. for their good faith efforts to ensure that women are not refused medication because of an individual employee’s religious beliefs,” said ACLU of New Mexico Executive Director Peter Simonson. “Individual pharmacists certainly have a protected right to exercise their religious beliefs, but those beliefs cannot cause a company to discriminate against its customers.”

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