26 October 2005

Target Pharmacies Continued.

Another Target Letter:

Dear Target Guest,

Target is extremely disappointed that Planned Parenthood is spreading misleading information about an alleged incident at a Target pharmacy in Missouri and our policies on emergency contraception. The accounts being reported are inaccurate and exaggerated. Our policy is comparable to that of many other national retailers and the recommendations of the American Pharmacists Association.

Target consistently ensures that prescriptions for emergency contraception are filled. As an Equal Opportunity Employer, we also are legally required to accommodate our team members' sincerely held religious beliefs as required by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In the unusual event that a Target pharmacist's sincerely held religious beliefs conflict with filling a guest's prescription for emergency contraception, Target policy requires our pharmacists to take responsibility for ensuring that the guest's prescription is filled in a timely and respectful manner. If it is not done in this manner, disciplinary action will be taken.

Target abides by all state and local laws and, in the event that other laws conflict with our policy, we will follow the law.

We appreciate the opportunity to clarify our position and correct misinformation.


Jennifer Hanson
Target Executive Offices

Let's look at what Planned Parenthood said:

A 26-year-old Missouri woman was refused EC when she handed her prescription to a pharmacist at a Target store in Fenton, MO, on September 30. The woman was told by the pharmacist, “I won’t fill it. It’s my right not to fill it.” Target does not support a policy to have valid prescriptions for birth control, including emergency contraception, filled in-store without discrimination or delay!

Does the letter from Target above definitively say this incident didn't happen? No. Indeed, it seems to contradict itself by both saying that the incident is "alleged" while also claiming in a way that it could not unless it knew that the incident did happen, that it was "exaggerated". You can't know the some exaggerated unless you know that a less extreme incident happened.

Does Target in its statement above say that it supports a policy to have valid prescriptions for birth control, including emergency contraception, filled in-store without discrimination or delay"? No. Its policy is "ensuring that the guest's prescription is filled in a timely and respectful manner" which means that they could very well tell you to go elsewhere. The press release also deliberately confuses what Planned Parenthood is saying about Target policies, which is that what Target pharmacies actually do is the real Target policy, while what a piece of paper in Target's corporate offices says Target will do is merely a pretend policy.

And what does Title VII really require of Target:

(j) The term ``religion'' includes all aspects of religious observance and practice, as well as belief, unless an employer demonstrates that he is
unable to reasonably accommodate to an employee's or prospective
employee's religious observance or practice without undue hardship on the
conduct of the employer's business

Furthermore, Target also has a duty under the civil rights laws not to discriminate against women in public accomodations.

Target does not have to tolerate pharmacists in a manner that prevents customer prescriptions from being filled due to their religious beliefs. But, apparently, it does.

Any other standard the requiring every store to carry out its duties is an express route to disaster. Scientologists who won't dispense psychiatric drugs, vegans who don't want to sell milk, Hindus who don't want to sell beef jerky, Jews who won't check out pork, Mormons who won't sell coffee or alcohol, Catholic who don't want to sell condoms, God hates homosexuals so no AZT for you, blood transfusions are wrong so no clot busting and immune suppressing drugs for you, the parade of horribles goes on and on and on. If your beliefs prevent you from doing your job, you need to find another job.

The pharmacists are getting delusions of grandeur here. Their job is to carry out a doctor's orders in a way sufficiently alert to catch problems like potentially problematic drug combinations. Period. End of story. No questions asked. Refusal to follow a doctor's orders is always a grounds for dismissal of a pharmacist, and always has been. It is not the job of a pharmacist to practice medicine, it is the job of a pharmacist to dispense drugs in a safe manner consistent with a doctor's orders.

Until Target is willing to establish a policy that no prescription will be refused by a store because of a pharmacists moral objections and that any pharmacist who does so will be dismissed, it deserves the full ration of shit it has received.

There was a correct press release to issue in response to this incident. It would have read:

The pharmacist who is alleged to have refused to fill a prescription of a 26-year-old Missouri woman for emergency contraception on September 30,2005 at a Target store in Fenton, MO, has been suspended pending an investigation of the incident by the company. If the allegation recited in an October 25, 2005 statement by Planned Parenthood regarding this incident prove to be true, Target will terminate the employment of this pharmacist for violating Target policy and abusing the trust of its pharmacy customers.

A statement like that would have won Target millions of loyal supporters.

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