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Here we are, slowly approaching the 2020s and yet we are still dealing with this crap. When a pharmacist denies you birth control, you may think that it’s a literal joke. They can’t honestly refuse to fill a prescription, right? Unfortunately, this is something that happens to a lot of women, and it’s something that is entirely legal.
It sounds like it would be against the law to refuse to fill birth control because of religious or moral views. However, our state laws say otherwise. Whether you are getting a monthly prescription or an emergency contraception, pharmacists are completely in their right to deny filling your birth control. So, what can you do when this happens? Don’t just sit around and wallow, you can make a change.
Remember, you're not alone.
First things first: You are not alone. When a pharmacist denies you birth control, you might feel embarrassed or ashamed. However, you are not the first and you won’t be the last woman who gets denied their birth control prescription.
Because states have what is called “conscience clauses,” they can refuse to fill the prescription. Pharmacies refuse to fill birth control, but thankfully, it is not the norm. This moral objection that pharmacists claim makes it frustrating and overwhelming when you are trying to get your prescription. It can even be damning if you live in a smaller town where there aren’t more than one or two pharmacies around.
It’s okay to react.
Whatever you feel, it’s okay to react. It’s perfectly fine to be angry and upset. In fact, you should be angry and upset! It’s your body, so no pharmacists should be able to refuse you medication because of a moral objection. Allow yourself to feel whatever emotions you are feeling. Call up your friends, tell your partner, do whatever it takes to get those emotions out.
Because it is legal, it’s hard to really do much about it. However, that doesn’t mean that it is impossible. It’s completely unfair when a pharmacist denies you birth control. Get mad, but then get ready to do something about it.
Find another option.
Your birth control prescription is important, so you shouldn’t just give up and not fill it because some pharmacists refuse to fill it. That’s ridiculous, and there are millions of pharmacists that would be happy to fill your prescription. If you live in a smaller area where there are not a ton of pharmacists around, don’t fret. Thanks to the internet, there are a ton of online pharmacies where you can get your prescription filled. Ask that pharmacist to give you the prescription back so you can take the prescription to another pharmacist.
Usually, a pharmacist denying birth control is a one-person show. That means that there might be another pharmacist at the grocery store that will fill it for you. Or, if you are trying to buy a different type of birth control like emergency contraception, ask a store clerk where it is located. That’s supposed to be available over the counter, so technically any store clerk can find it for you. Don’t give up immediately.
However, if it is a monthly birth control prescription you are trying to fill, looking into another pharmacy might be best. You can always call ahead and make sure that you won’t run into the same issue there. While it is extremely frustrating that you have to waste your time just to get birth control, at least you can know whether or not they will fill it before you head over to that store.
File a complaint.
Just because it is legal for pharmacies to refuse filling birth control due to personal beliefs, that doesn’t mean that they are free from consequences. You can file a complaint against the pharmacist. Stores are in the business to make money, and if they know that a pharmacist’s personal beliefs are interfering with profits, it’s only a matter of time before they are going to be let go.
So while you can’t proclaim your rights to their face and force them to fill your prescription, you don’t have to sit idle either. These complaints often go through your health care provider and the pharmacy board. In addition to talking to the store manager or the store’s corporate office, you can also file with your health care provider and pharmacy board.
Let others know.
Women need to band together, and letting others know where you were denied birth control could help save another woman from going through the same embarrassment that you went through. Leave reviews on Yelp, Google, and Facebook that share your experience. Let the women know of the pharmacist that refused to fill your prescription due to their religious or personal beliefs.
This is your body, and you have the right to choose whether or not you are going to take birth control. It’s completely unfair that a pharmacist, who is there to help you feel better, would deny you that right to control your fertility. Why birth control causes such a divide among Americans will never be known, especially as there are benefits of birth control other than the obvious; but one thing is for sure, you can get your birth control even if one pharmacist refuses to fill it.
We know how frustrating it is when someone tries to make choices for your body. As women, we have the right to choose when and if we want to have children. Be angry and get frustrated that there are these “conscience clauses” in our state laws. You could even write to your state legislators about the issue. If every woman who has been denied birth control wrote to the political leaders, we could change the world.
When this experience happens to you, there’s nothing more frustrating. Thankfully, there are some birth control options that you can purchase in the moment if you need them immediately. Then, in the long term, you can look toward how to get birth control without seeing a doctor. There’s no right way to react when a pharmacist denies you birth control, but just know that you have options and you’re not alone.