Recently, some pharmacists across the country have refused to fill prescriptions for emergency contraception and other birth control pills. Why? They argue that the pills are in conflict with their moral beliefs. And in the current political climate, instead of writing legislation requiring these rogue pharmacists to comply with the law and fill prescriptions without discrimination, many state governments, encouraged by the Bush Administration, are giving these vigilante pharmacists cover. Four states already have laws on the books that permit pharmacist refusals and 12 more are considering similar legislation.
As Rachel Laser of the National Women's Law Center, told the Washington Post: "This is another indication of the current political atmosphere and climate. It's outrageous. It's sex discrimination. It prevents access to a basic form of health care for women. We're going back in time."
No one seems to know exactly how often pharmaceutical refusals are occuring, but cases have been reported in California, Washington, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Texas, New Hampshire, Ohio and North Carolina. Advocates on both sides say the refusals appear to be spreading, often surfacing only in the rare instances when women file complaints.
Planned Parenthood is organizing nationally against this regressive trend with a new website, petition drives, letter-writing campaigns, public education initiatives and the formation of nationwide "response teams" designed to gracefully apply counter-pressure to pharmacists who refuse to fill prescriptions for birth-control and EC. Click here to see the many ways you can help and click here to become a member of Planned Parenthood to support more work like this.
Still Time to Capsize Bolton
Last Thursday, in another setback for President Bush, the Democrats forced a delay in the confirmation vote of John Bolton to become the next US ambassador to the United Nations.
By a margin of 42 to 56, Senate Democrats managed to muster sufficient support for a procedural maneuver to prolong the debate on Bolton's nomination, with the Republicans coming just four votes short of the 60 necessary to bring the nomination to a final vote. The Republicans reacted bitterly as Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said he was "very very disappointed," while the Democrats insisted, fairly, that they want access to all relevant papers on Bolton--which the White House is refusing--before the vote.
Let's try to disappoint Frist even more by clicking here here to implore your Senators to oppose the nominee. (And for details on why Bolton is a terrible choice, read and circulate Nation pieces by The Nation's UN correspondent Ian Willams and the magazine's Washington editor David Corn.)