Pharmacists should not be in my bed

Jackie Mantey

Sometimes things break — windows, cars, room key cards.

The most jilting of any break, however, is that of a condom.

Columbus couple Brian O’Neill and Tashina Bryd recently encountered such a dilemma. Like any responsible pair, they weighed their options and decided that Plan B was in order. They decided to purchase the over-the-counter emergency contraceptive at the Springfield County Wal-Mart while getting groceries.

Why shouldn’t they be able to? They’re over 18. They’re legal consumers. The couple, however, was met with a shake of the head and a laugh in the face by the Wal-Mart pharmacist.

Last August, the Food and Drug Administration approved the over-the-counter sale of Plan B for those age 18 or older. Commonly called the “morning-after pill,” Plan B is effective in preventing pregnancy if taken 120 hours after unprotected intercourse. Even though women over 18 no longer need a prescription to purchase Plan B, they still need the personal approval of some pharmacists who can refuse to sell the contraceptive.

Why do certain pharmacists care what’s going on in my ovaries? Well, many won’t sell because of moral or political objections.

It’s unfair that pharmacists are permitted to pick and choose what to sell to their customers. The fact that the Springfield pharmacist would not sell Plan B to Bryd and O’Neill, even though the pharmacy had the pills, is unethical. Pharmacists have a duty to their customers’ health and well-being. That duty involves a relationship between health care provider and patient – not health care provider, patient, moral deity and political viewpoint.

The OTC status of EC was allowed for a reason. EC has contributed to a decline in abortion rates in the United States, according to the Alan Guttmacher Institute. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, each year, the OTC Plan B sales would cut the number of unwanted pregnancies in half.

They are also estimating that emergency contraception could prevent up to 1.5 million unintended pregnancies and 800,000 abortions a year. So even if the pharmacists don’t believe reproductive choice is a right women should have, their moral objection to abortion should sway them to selling it.

Because Emergency Contraception lowers the risk of pregnancy when started within 120 hours, the individuals who are legally allowed to receive such contraception are forced to race against the clock to find it. Equally important, the sooner Plan B is administered, the better it works.

In Kent, you can go to the University Health Center, CVS or Walgreens. All provide Plan B with proper identification. Sure, you may have options here (if one place doesn’t sell it to you, you can go down the street), but some sexually active Americans are not offered that luxury.

We need to recognize that social stigmas surround any form of birth control, and the right to use it is under attack even amid encouraging legislation. If one person’s access is critically denied, yours could be, too. Women and men alike need to start speaking out against these pharmacists and in support of reproductive freedom.

And leaving a woman’s fate in the hands of a Bible-heaving pharmacist is not freedom.

Jackie Mantey is a junior magazine journalism major and Forum page editor. Contact her at [email protected].