Women may have trouble receiving the Pill

Brianne Carlon

As of August, four states have created laws or regulations allowing pharmicists to decline filling birth control prescriptions.

Credit: Jason Hall

An estimated 12 million American women use hormonal contraception, according to Prevention.com, a Web site dedicated to health. Now, a growing number of these women will have an increasingly hard time obtaining their prescription.

As of August, four states – Arkansas, Georgia, Missouri and South Dakota – have created laws or regulations allowing pharmacists to decline filling birth control prescriptions, according to abcnews.com. Arizona was later added to the list, and up to 13 other states have introduced similar bills.

The San Antonio Express-News pointed out this may not be an issue in large cities where drugstores are on every corner, but it is a big deal in small towns where pharmacy competition does not exist, and “throwing a fit will only get a woman thrown out of the store.”

No such clause has been introduced in Ohio yet. However, if it is, Kent State students will not have to worry about receiving birth control, said Phil Folio, pharmacist at DeWeese Health Center.

“I don’t have any problem dispensing birth control as long as the doctor feels it is appropriate,” he said. “I would continue doing what I am doing.”

Gov. Rod Blagojevich of Illinois issued an emergency ruling that required pharmacists in his state to dispense the medicine regardless of personal views, according to Indystar.com, the Web site of The Indianapolis Star.

Indystar.com also reported the National Women’s Law Center has heard from women in 12 states who have been denied emergency contraception or birth control pills by pharmacists.

Carolyn Ksenyak, junior fashion design major, does not agree with the new laws.

“I do not think it is fair if they decline it, especially because you have to get a prescription for it, so it shouldn’t be the pharmacist’s decision,” she said.

Many women feel the same way.

“Refusing women access to the Pill is a very disturbing trend,” said Gloria Feldt, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, in an article for Prevention.com. “The war on choice is not just about abortion anymore. It’s about our right to birth control.”

Birth control pills aren’t only for those who are sexually active. They are also prescribed for health reasons.

“It is about the woman’s own personal health and well being,” said Jim Hostler, chief pharmacist at DeWeese Health Center.

Along with being highly effective, there are more than 20 noncontraceptive uses for the Pill in common practice, said Giovannina Anthony, an attending physician of obstetrics and gynecology at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City, in the same article on Prevention.com.

“This drug saves women from surgery for gynecological conditions like endometriosis, fibroids and severe bleeding and pain,” she said.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recognize pregnancy starting not when an egg is fertilized, but when the fertilized egg implants in the uterine lining. Therefore, a pregnancy test will not show a positive result before implantation.

“It can’t be an abortion before there is a pregnancy,” said David Grimes, a clinical professor in obstetrics and gynecology at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine.

Anti-Pill groups, the opposing side, believe life begins sooner, at fertilization. According to Prevention.com, in the view of anti-Pill groups, these fertilized eggs, nascent human lives, are unable to attach to the hormonally altered uterine lining. Instead of implanting, they slough off. This is referred to as post-fertilization effect.

“Our job is to enhance life,” said Karen Brauer, president of Pharmacists for Life International, in the article for Prevention.com. “We shouldn’t have to dispense a medication that we think takes lives.”

Pharmacists have always had the right to refuse any suspicious prescriptions, Folio said.

“You have to use professional judgment if the prescription looks fishy or the patient may be abusing the drug (such as narcotics),” he said.

However, he said he does not believe women should have problems getting birth control in Ohio.

“Pharmacists in general are very reasonable as far as helping the patient and making the medication available,” he said. “In this state, I do not know of anyone who would give a woman a hard time about filling the prescription.”

However, with the growth of the “hormonal birth control equals abortion” view, it may happen.

“If your gynecologist won’t prescribe the Pill, find a new doctor – and tell all your friends what occurred,” said Vanessa Cullins, vice president for medical affairs at Planned Parenthood Federation of America in the Prevention.com article. The same goes for pharmacists who refuse to fill your prescription.

Contact feature reporter Brianne Carlon at [email protected].