Revolting pharmacists: Target edition

According to Planned Parenthood in St. Louis, a pharmacist working at a Target store in Missouri recently refused to fill a prescription for a 26-year-old woman who was seeking emergency contraception. Asked why, the pharmacist allegedly responded, "I won't fill it and I don't have to fill it and that my right!"

Not surprisingly, this caused considerable outrage in pro-choice circles. Among other things, Planned Parenthood complains that Target has consistently declined to elucidate its policies regarding the obligations of pharmacists. Contacted by City Pages today, Target spokeswoman Lena Michaud offered the following statement:

Like many other retailers, Target's policy ensures that a guest's prescription for emergency contraception is filled, whether at Target or at a different pharmacy [italics added] in a timely and respectful manner. This policy meets the health care needs of our guests while respecting the diversity of our team members.

Target places a very high priority on our role as a community pharmacy and our obligation to meet the needs of the patients we serve. Our guests deserve our best service, and our team members value working in an inclusive environment that respects their individuality.

You may have heard about an alleged incident at a Target store in Missouri. Please know that we have thoroughly researched the situation and determined that the organization has inaccurately portrayed the events that occurred. We are extremely disappointed by yesterday's Planned Parenthood protest at the Missouri store and the misinformation that is being perpetuated.

Target's mastery of progressive-sounding rhetoric is impressive. Note the graceful invocation of buzzwords such as "diversity," "individuality," "respect," "inclusive," and--most important--"community." But whatever the "inaccuracies" of the Planned Parenthood account, it is also clear from the Target statement that the retail giant has bowed to the refusal clause movement.

With that in mind, there are more frank ways to express the company policy. Like this: "As a corporation, we have decided to let religious zealots on our payroll send all harlots/guests packing. If you insist on not being fruitful and multiplying, we will give you directions to a more accomodating pharmacist."

As City Pages reported previously, there have been no publicized incidents of Minnesota pharmacists refusing to fill prescriptions for contraceptives. However, there have been repeated efforts to legislate so-called "conscience clauses" permitting such conduct. Meanwhile, it is also worth noting that CVS--the country's largest pharmacy chain and a fast growing presence in Minnesota--has formally adopted a policy allowing pharmacists to turn away patients based on "deeply held religious beliefs."