of Ms. Megan Kelly
When I went to pick up my medication, the
pharmacist on duty said she would not fill my prescriptions because
of her beliefs, and that I would have to get my prescriptions filled
elsewhere. I was shocked.
Good Morning. I want to thank the Committee for inviting me today
to offer testimony today on the issue of pharmacist's refusal. I
appreciate your time and willingness to listen to my story.
My name is Megan Kelly. I live in Geneva, Illinois. I'm 29 years
old, married, a mother, and a high school art teacher.
Recently, in trying to make a responsible decision about my
health and family planning, I was humiliated and discriminated
against by a pharmacist who refused to fill my prescriptions for
birth control pills and emergency contraception based on her own
personal views. This pharmacist put my health in danger by refusing
to fill my prescription and imposing a delay in my ability to access
my legally prescribed medication.
On Sunday of 4th of July weekend I went to get my BC prescription
filled and found out I had no more refills left. When my usual
pharmacist tried to contact my doctor she was told that I had to
make my annual appointment before I could get my prescription
filled. My doctor was also out of town due to the fact that it was
4th of July. After not being able to use my birth control pills for
3 days my doctor recommended that I use the EC pill as a
precautionary measure. That is why I tried to get both the birth
control pill and the EC pill prescription filled.
My doctor's office called in my prescriptions to a local
Jewel-Osco pharmacy in St. Charles and was told my medication was
available. When I went to pick up my medication, the pharmacist on
duty said she would not fill my prescriptions because of her
beliefs, and that I would have to get my prescriptions filled
elsewhere. I was shocked. I asked for the store manager, who said he
could not force his pharmacists to fill my prescriptions if they are
willing to transfer the prescriptions to another location. I called
the pharmacy district manager for Albertson's Inc., who operates
Jewel-Osco, and he confirmed this company policy.
The nearest Osco they wanted to transfer my prescription to is
located on the other side of town. I had to get home to my child and
a dinner party that was starting at my house in twenty minutes and I
did not have time to drive across town. I was finally able to get my
medication hours later at a Walgreen's pharmacy.
As a patient, I consult with my doctor about the best course of
treatment. In writing a prescription, my doctor is doing his job and
acting in my best interest. I do not expect a pharmacist to breach
the relationship I have with my doctor and endanger my health. When
pharmacists refuse to dispense medicine, they are not doing their
job. Their job is to dispense medication, not moral judgment. A
pharmacist's personal views do not belong in my healthcare.
As a consumer, I have a right to walk in to any pharmacy in
America and expect to have my prescription filled without
unnecessary delays or discrimination. It is completely unacceptable
for this store to refer customers to another provider at a different
location. As in my case, this practice can result in humiliation and
- based on the nature of the medication - poses a health risk when
the prescription is not filled in a timely manner. Birth control
pills must be taken every day at the same time to be effective, and
the effectiveness of emergency contraception diminishes dramatically
as time goes on.
I have since learned that what I suspected at the time is true:
the Jewel-Osco pharmacy in St. Charles is in violation of an
emergency rule that Illinois Governor Blagojevich signed on April 1,
which states that pharmacies in Illinois that sell contraceptives
must accept and fill prescriptions for contraceptives without delay.
The Joint Committee on Administrative Rules is expected to make a
decision about whether to make the rule permanent in August.
It is the responsibility of pharmacies to ensure that all
individuals' needs are met, and that no one becomes a target of
discrimination. The Jewel-Osco pharmacy in St. Charles currently
employs a pharmacist who is jeopardizing women's health by refusing
to fill legal, physician-prescribed family planning medication.
The bottom line is this: if a woman and her doctor have already
discussed the need for contraception, she should be able to walk in
to any pharmacy in America and expect to have her prescription
filled without unnecessary delays or discrimination. Women should
never be denied basic health care services by pharmacists who choose
to impose their own beliefs on others.