Part 2 of two parts
Wal-Mart's initial refusal to stock
the "morning-after" Pill
Reactions to the Wal-Mart decision:
Judie Brown of the American Life League stated:
"They are to be
congratulated for their decision and commended for sticking to it." It "may
save human lives."
On their web site, they also ask that Wal-Mart
discontinue selling oral contraceptives.
The Planned Parenthood Federation of America said that Wal-Mart:
women faced with reproductive health emergencies." 14
Marie Griffin, editor of Drug Store News commented that retailers have an
obligation to not withhold drugs that doctors have decided that a woman needs:
[Wal-Mart] should not get involved in the sacred relationship between a
physician and patient." 14
Mr. DuPlantis, president of Pharmacists for Life International appeared to believe that Preven prevents implantation of the zygote (fertilized ovum). He said:
"Regarding Preven, based on the way we feel that life begins at
fertilization, it's an abortifacient mechanism." 14
Results of the Wal-Mart decision (as viewed by some pro-life groups):
For those pro-life groups that believe that pregnancy and personhood begin at
conception, and who also reject the findings of medical research and believe that the morning-after pills may inhibit implantation, EC can work as an abortifacient - i.e. it is a medication that
induces an abortion. Thus any restriction on their sale will reduce the number of
In many rural areas of the United States, the Wal-Mart decision will restrict women's
access to emergency contraception. It is likely that more women will not make the
necessary time and effort to travel to another town or city to obtain the morning-after
pill. This will probably cause a noticable increase in unwanted pregnancies, of which about 40% end in abortion.
Overview about Wal-Mart in Canada:
Results of the Wal-Mart decision (as viewed by medical professionals, pro-choice
As noted above, Wal-Mart once restricted women's access to emergency contraception.
Fewer women who have had unprotected sex were then able to obtain and use the pill. The number of unwanted
pregnancies probably increase. This will, in turn, generate an increase in the U.S.
abortion rate because almost half of all unanticipated pregnancies end in abortion.
An abortion performed in a clinic or hospital is far safer than a
continued pregnancy. However, infections can occur; this can cause sterility and (in very
rare instances) death. In those states where parental notification or permission is
required for teens to obtain an abortion, some young women are seeking illegal abortions,
where risks are considerably higher. It is thus inevitable that restricting access to
emergency contraception will result in deaths to women.
Further developments 1997 to 2006:
||1997-MAY: Wal-Mart boycott proposed: The Kaiser reproductive health report reported that Planned Parenthood of New York City "has informed Wal-Mart Stores
Inc. that it may orchestrate a boycott of its pharmacies" because of its ban on
Preven. Their president, Alexander Sanger wrote: "I strongly urge Wal-Mart to
immediately re-evaluate and reverse its decision to not stock, order or dispense emergency
contraception under the brand name Preven." 6 The
threatened boycott never materialized.
||1997-APR: Kosovo refugees: The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)
and Planned parenthood Federation of America announced that they had sent
reproductive health supplies (including emergency contraceptives) to help Kosovo refugees
who are frequently the victims of rape. Monsignor Elio Sgreccia, vice president of the Pontifical
Academy for Life in the Vatican said that use of emergency contraception is "tantamount
to abortion...it was important to distinguish between the act of violence suffered and the
reality of new human beings who have begun their life" 9
||State laws: Bills have been initiated in Louisiana, New Jersey,
Dakota to allow pharmacists to refuse to fill subscriptions if they conflict with their
personal creed. The Louisiana bill defines personal creed as "a system of
religious beliefs and precepts [that] a person holds with the strength of religious views
||Pharmacist option: Dr. Leon Speroff wrote in an article in OB/GYN
Clinical Alert: "I believe that most of us would agree that pharmacists
should have the opportunity to remove themselves from an action they cannot morally
support. But at the same time, the right of the patient to obtain legally approved
medication must be protected."
||1999-MAY: Second boycott: Women Leaders Online suggest that people avoid
buying stuff from Wal-Mart, to keep a record of how much money they have diverted from
Wal-Mart, and then send them an Email at email@example.com with a message such as:
"This week, I spent $134.23 at stores other than Wal-Mart. I made a business
decision not to patronize Wal-Mart for these purchases, since your decision not to sell
Emergency Contraception made it clear that you did not want my business, nor that of other
women. If you change your minds and start providing the medicine women need, please let me
||2006-FEB-14: MA: Pharmacy board orders Wal-Mart to honor Plan B prescriptions: Three
women filed complaints with the Massachusetts Pharmacy Board, critical
for failing to stock Plan B medication. It is the only emergency
contraceptive approved by the FDA. The Board ordered Wal-Mart to fill
prescriptions for Plan B. More details.
||2006-FEB-17: Connecticut: Comptroller
asks Wal-Mart to honor Plan B prescriptions: Apparently triggered by
the Massachusetts developments, Nancy Wyman, the state comptroller of
Connecticut, has asked Wal-Mart to stock emergency contraceptive in its
20 pharmacies in the state. More details.
Should retailers have the right to not stock all products?
An editorial in the Opekika-Auburn News in east central Alabama
expressed dismay at the 2006-FEB developments in Massachusetts. It states, in
"Pro-choice or pro-life is not the issue here. The issue here is the
government dictating what we should consider as free enterprise. Wal-Mart,
and any other retail store, should be able to carry any product it chooses
just like it should be able to choose not to carry some products. The
government should not be able to force a retailer to carry a product. When
this happens, the government has a form of ownership, or control, over this
"Aren’t state-run industries signs of socialism or even communism? Is this
what we want in America?"
"Imagine the government coming into your place of business and forcing you
to sell certain products. It’s a form of socialism and it’s absurd to even
think that the governing body of this nation that is supposed to be a free
democracy would even consider such. How ironic it is that the pro-choice
group would press to remove choice from a retailer."
"Wal-Mart is not denying women the ‘morning after’ pill. Wal-Mart is not
restricting women from taking the pills. They just aren’t providing them at
their locations. The pill can very well be purchased at many other retail
stores that include pharmacy departments. Free enterprise is special. Let’s
not begin to destroy it." 20
Wal-mart reverses its decision; stores will stock Plan B pill across the U.S.:
A Wal-Mart spokesperson announced on 2006-MAR-03 that the company would start
to stock EC in all its 3,700 pharmacies in the U.S. starting on MAR-20. Vice
president Ron Chomiuk said:
"We expect more states to require us to sell
emergency contraceptives in the months ahead. Because of this, and the fact that
this is an FDA-approved product, we feel it is difficult to justify being the
country's only major pharmacy chain not selling it."
They will continue
their conscientious objection policy which allows any Wal-Mart or Sam's Club
employee who feels uncomfortable dispensing this or any other prescription to
refer customers to another pharmacy or pharmacist.
Grossman, executive director of union-backed campaign group WalMartWatch.com,
"We commend Wal-Mart for taking an important first step towards
allowing women access to safe and legal medication."
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- Wal-Mart receives letters from the public at: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Religion Today, Current News summary, 1999-MAY-17
- A "Provider Attitudes towards ECPs" survey is at: http://www.path.org/
- "Action Alert," American Life League, at: http://www.all.org/
- "Maranatha Daywatch," daily summary of news headlines, 1999-MAY-5
- News report, Reuters/Buffalo News, 1999-MAY-15; cited in "Preven: Planned
Parenthood may boycott Wal-Mart." See: http://report.kff.org/ *
- Fox Report, 1999-APR-15, Fox News Channel. See: http://report.kff.org/ *
- "Preven: Wal-Mart's decision not to dispense product outrages women's groups."
See: http://report.kff.org/ *
- Article, Agence France Press, 1999-APR-13. See: http://report.kff.org/ *
- "Conscience clause: New Jersey pharmacist bill in the works."
See: http://report.kff.org/ *
- Dr. Leon Speroff, Article, OB/GYN Clinical AlertOB/GYN Clinical Alert, 1998-DEC
- "Emergency Contraception: crisis at the pharmacy counter," at: http://report.kff.org/ *
- "Wal-Mart's Accounting," Women Leaders Online/Women Organizing
for Change alert: 1999-MAY-28.
- Quoted in an article, New York Times, 1999-APR-16.
- The Canadian Pharmacists Association has a web site at: http://www.cdnpharm.ca/
- Tanya Talaga, "Morning-after pill Preven goes on sale in Canada,"
Toronto Star, 1999-NOV-11, Page A2.
- D.J. Morrow, "Policy on Prescription Orders at Wal-Mart Draws
Praise." The New York Times, (1999-SEP-16), Page 10. as cited in
"Fact sheet: Emergency contraception," Planned Parenthood, http://www.plannedparenthood.org/
- Jeff Sellers, "Deliver Us from Wal-Mart? Christians are among those sounding the
alarm about the ethics of this retail giant. Are the worries justified?,"
Christianity Today, 2005-MAY.
- "Wal-Mart May Stock 'Emergency'
Contraceptives," ConsumerAffairs.com, 2006-FEB-15, at: http://www.consumeraffairs.com/
- "Retailers have right not to stock all
products," Opekika-Auburn News, 2006-FEB-17, at: http://www.oanow.com/
- "Wal-Mart decides to carry Plan B pill," Associated Press,
2006-MAR-05, at: http://www.usatoday.com
- "Wal-Mart to kill babies nationwide," Covenant News, 2006-MAR-06, at: http://www.covenantnews.com
* Cited in Kaiser reproductive health reports.
Copyright © 1999 to 2016 by Ontario Consultants on
Latest update: 2016-JUN-30
Author: B.A. Robinson