February 15, 2006

Giving Women Some Control

Wal-Mart said yesterday it will start stocking and selling the emergency contraceptive drug Plan B at its 44 Massachusetts pharmacies and is giving serious consideration to carrying the drug at all of its stores nationwide.

State [of Massachusetts] orders Wal-Mart to sell morning-after pill

If Wal-Mart decides to carry this pill nationwide, women will have states like Illinois and Massachusetts to thank for taking a stand. The emergency contraception pill, which will prevent pregnancy if taken soon after intercourse, is also good news for nondogmatic people who oppose abortions because it prevents the need for an abortion later on. However, there is controversy. The drug is legally considered to be a contraceptive, not an abortifacient. However, because there is a chance that it can prevent a fertilized egg from becoming implanted, some religions bar its use.

[Side note: it’s interesting that dogmatic types don’t give more ground on contraceptives like this for other people who don’t believe the way that they do. Leaving it a black and white issue eliminates wiggle room for compromise. One way to fight abortions is to simply reduce the need for many of them, rather then make them illegal. Since everyone agreed that this drug most often prevents conception, then it’s availability and use might logically lead to fewer abortions overall. Probably even if you factored in non-implantation. I have shrinking amounts of sympathy for black and white, all-or-nothing types. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s fine for them to remain true to rigid beliefs in their own lives. But when they project outwards without thoughts of practical compromise, I lose patience.]

The availability of this drug is key to whether it is useful. It’s called the “morning after” pill for a reason. Wal-Mart is the only pharmacy for many women, and this will make a big difference in availability.

The board voted quickly after a brief discussion. James T. DeVita, the president-elect of the pharmacy board, said: ”How do you determine the needs of the community? You determine it by the prescriptions that are presented.”

In other words, the community’s needs are found by listening to the community, not listening to a corporation that comes here from halfway across the country.

I know the local Wal-Marts have been helpful when it comes to community service, helping out the Girl Scouts and helping out college student group projects like the Solar Decathalon with their fund raisers. This is a corporate policy that has been overthrown, not a local policy.

So, here’s to better availability of this drug and for fewer abortions!

Posted by James at February 15, 2006 2:44 PM
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Hwa hwa hwa!!

"business decision" my Aunt Fannie! Many years ago, they said they wouldn't carry it "because it wouldn't sell." Right. It's their fundie philosophy attitude that is one of the many reasons I don't shop there.

Carrying the morning after pill doesn't redeem them in my eyes, but it sure is satisfying to know they have to!

What are you willing to become party to for cheap stuff? To me, losing your soul one bit at a time in return for cheap goods is a bad bargain.

No thanks, Wal-Mart. I've been wise to you for a loooong time.

Posted by: Patti M. at February 15, 2006 3:57 PM

Patti - I'm with you for a number of reasons. I'll drive further and spend more money to avoid shopping at Wal-Mart.

Posted by: Jim at February 15, 2006 4:28 PM

My pharmacist made a remark to me the other day, she said, "Birth control shouldn't be so expensive," because mine is really quite ridiculous. And it reminded me of college, when I was at Brown I went to the health office to get my allergy shots, and I remember that contraception was free there. You could just walk up to the pharmacy and ask for condoms or whatever you needed, if I'm remembering correctly. Can you imagine how much less disease, poverty, and crime we'd have if that were the case everywhere? Can you imagine how much more productive and happy women (all over the world) would be if they could choose their pregnancies? It's made me think that if I ever devote all of my volunteering resources to a cause, I might champion sex education and birth control. What a *huge* difference that would make in the world.

Posted by: Maggie at February 15, 2006 5:50 PM

The so-called "morning after" pill is simply an additional dose of the "regular" pill, is it not? As I recall, the prescription for the morning after pill is no different from the prescription for the contraceptive. So what's the big deal?

Posted by: KissyO at February 16, 2006 10:11 PM

I don't know why WalMart and others have made a big deal out of this form of contraception.

Maybe they feel it is a slippery slope of some kind.

Posted by: James at February 17, 2006 12:35 AM

I assume they have made a big deal out of it due to pressure from social conservatives who feel that it will encourage promiscuity (even though condoms are available over the counter anyway and also protect against social diseases).

Additionally, there are still many (fundie Catholics, for example) who consider Plan B to be a convenient take-home abortion, partly because they believe "life begins" the moment an egg is fertilized, whether it gets implanted or not; and in some cases partly because they don't know or care how all this stuff works - they just want it to disappear.

Companies like Wal-Mart don't care about the technical facts if perceived consumer demand dictates otherwise. However, if Wal-Mart, Target, and K-Mart all agree to carry Plan B, the anti-choice zealots may have a hard time expressing their wrath in the form of a boycott.

Posted by: Julie at February 17, 2006 8:28 AM

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