Rhode Island Pharmacist Refuses to Fill Morning After Pill Script

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 11, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
August 11, 2005

Providence, RI (LifeNews.com) — A Rhode Island pharmacist has refused to fill a customer’s prescription for the morning after pill, which can sometimes cause an abortion. While abortion advocates decry the situation, CVS Pharmacy, the employer, is backing up its staff member.

Eileen Howard Dunn, vice president of corporate communications and community relations for CVS, would not identify either the customer or the pharmacist in question at the Providence store.

However, Dunn said CVS supports pharmacists acting on their moral beliefs and refusing to fill such orders as they as they direct customers to another pharmacy that can fill the prescription.

"Our policy is to fill prescriptions for all customers in a timely manner and to make sure their needs are met and that they are satisfied," Dunn said. "As an employer, however, we must also accommodate a sincerely held religious conviction that may prevent a pharmacist from dispensing a certain prescription."

The woman was temporarily denied the morning after pill drug last Friday night and Dunn told the Providence Journal newspaper the female pharmacist said the drug violated her religious beliefs.

The pharmacist offered to send the script to another 24 hour CVS or told the customer she could return in the morning when another pharmacist would be on duty. The customer returned the next day and filled the order.

Dunn told the Journal the employee acted in concert with company policy.

But the actions angered Planned Parenthood officials who called what happened "criminal."

Kathy Kushnir, vice president of external affairs for Planned Parenthood of Rhode Island, said, "If a woman presents a legal prescription, it must be filled at that time — period, end of story."

"And even if this is just one case, it’s a major case because we have a woman going from pharmacy to pharmacy trying to fill a valid prescription," Kushnir said. "That is criminal."

Catherine Cordy, executive director of the state Board of Pharmacy, told the Journal that nothing in Rhode Island law spells when a prescription can or can’t be filled.

"We believe this is appropriate as long as [the prescription] is made reasonably available to the patient through another pharmacist at the same store or the prescription is transferred to another store," she said.

Cordy indicated the state board would investigate the matter even though no complaint has been filed.

The FDA is currently considering whether to make the morning after pill available over the counter without a prescription to women above the age of 16 years-old.