The Campaign for Universal Denial: Contraception Coverage and State Pharmacist Refusal Clauses

Imagine a woman living in rural Arkansas. She is frequently forced to engage in intercourse with her husband, which has resulted in several unwanted pregnancies. Hoping to prevent further pregnancies, she receives a prescription from her physician for birth control pills. Although the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Affordable Care Act) provides that preventive health measures, such as prescription birth control pills, must be provided by insurance companies without a co-pay or surcharge, her local pharmacist refuses to fill the prescription. The pharmacist also refuses to locate the pills at another pharmacy or transfer the prescription. The state does not legally obligate him to provide such service. Several states’ laws allow pharmacists to refuse to fill prescriptions when contrary to their personal beliefs. The woman, with limited transportation and access to information, may not be able to travel to another pharmacy. Even if she did, she might yet again be turned away. Despite the Affordable Care Act’s promise of free access, she is left with no options.