STATE NEWS:

Baltimore NOW Urges Wal-Mart to Expand Access to Emergency Contraception

SOURCE: Baltimore Chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW)
Currently Wal-Mart does not dispense emergency contraception (also known as Plan B or the "morning after pill") in any state other than Illinois, where it is required to do so by law. Now Wal-Mart has agreed to stock it in Massachusetts. "What about Maryland?" asks Baltimore NOW.
Under pressure from a lawsuit and the Massachusetts state pharmacy board, Wal-Mart agreed on February 14 to start stocking and selling emergency contraception in its Massachusetts stores. Currently Wal-Mart does not dispense emergency contraception (also known as Plan B or the "morning after pill") in any state other than Illinois, where it is required to do so by law.

"While NOW is encouraged by this development, it is clear that Wal-Mart only changes its policy when backed into a legal corner. Their concern for the rights of women customers is secondary at best," charged Baltimore NOW President Jessica Morgan in a prepared statement to the press.

Wal-Mart's refusal to stock the morning-after pill particularly affects women in rural areas where Wal-Mart may be the sole pharmacy, as in Western Maryland and the Eastern shore. Baltimore NOW is mounting a campaign to urge Wal-Mart to expand emergency contraception access to stores in Maryland and all states.

“Wal-Mart's management should not decide what medicines women may or may not take," said Morgan. "When a doctor prescribes emergency contraception for a woman, Wal-Mart should not have the right to overrule that decision.”

To be most effective, emergency contraception should be taken as soon as possible within 72 hours of unprotected intercourse or contraceptive failure. "No woman at risk for unintended pregnancy, be it the result of sexual assault or a broken condom, should be turned away by Wal-Mart and forced to find another pharmacy while the clock is ticking," said Morgan.


The National Organization for Women has nearly 400 members in its Baltimore City/County Chapter. For more information, contact Baltimore NOW at 410-668-4399 or email info@baltimorenow.org.



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This story was published on February 16, 2006.