Posted by: emjb | October 20, 2005

Dear Target: You Suck

So I’ve spent lots of money at Target over the years. Right now I’m registered there for baby stuff, and have gift certificates from there as baby shower gifts.

And then they had to go a pull a dick move like this:

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.” She was told that she could go to a local Walgreens instead. The woman said, “When the pharmacist told me she wouldn’t [fill the prescription], I went from disbelief to shock to anger. I guess I’m still pretty angry. It seems unbelievable to me that a medical professional could/would deny access to a federally approved drug and impose their personal beliefs in a professional setting. I am also grateful that I did not need it filled at that time. I don’t know how it would be if I had just been raped or if the condom broke and I was a feeling confusion and panic anyway — and then was denied access and told to go across the street.”

The national headquarters of Target has not responded to three PPFA attempts to clarify its policy on pharmacist refusals.

I didn’t want to believe this was true, so I wrote them. Here’s their response, emphasis mine:

Dear Target Guest,

Target places a high priority on our role as a community pharmacy and our obligation to meet the needs of the patients we serve. We expect all our team members, including our pharmacists, to provide respectful service to our guests, particularly when it comes to their health care needs.

Like many other retailers, Target has a policy that ensures a guest’s prescription for emergency contraception is filled, whether at Target or at a different pharmacy, in a timely and respectful manner. This policy meets the health care needs of our guests while respecting the diversity of our team members.

Your thoughts help us learn more about what our guests expect, so I’ll be sure to share your feedback with our pharmacy executives.

Thanks for taking the time to share your questions, thoughts and comments. I hope we’ll see you again soon at Target.


Jennifer Hanson
Target Executive Offices

You see what they did there? Instead of making the brave move of either a) saying that Target will not allow its pharmacists to discriminate, or b) Target doesn’t believe in contraception so it’s not going to fill anyone’s prescription, Target is trying to have it both ways. They’re hoping you’ll keep shopping there and just risk being there on a day some nutjob fundie decides you’re a sinner who doesn’t deserve contraception and turns you away.

And how exactly do they ensure that you will be able to get your prescription filled elsewhere? They can’t.

But that’s really not the issue. The issue is that a pharmacist can now take it upon themselves to decide whether or not they approve of your legal prescription from a qualified doctor, and Target is ok with that. So what’s next? What if the pharmacist decides that AIDS patients don’t deserve to live? Or that you should really be curing your depression with prayer, not Paxil?

Or what if another Target employee says “My religion doesn’t allow me to serve or talk to black people”? Will Target then tell black customers, that’s ok, on days when this guy is working there are plenty of other places for you to shop? Hell no. Because it’s stupid and wrong. Just like this is stupid and wrong.

Why the hell are these people being allowed to interfere in this legal and medical transaction that is, excuse my language, none of their fucking business? If you don’t want to prescribe birth control, don’t be a pharmacist, or go be a pharmacist at a Catholic pharmacy. Don’t you DARE impose your religion on me. You are not my pastor, my mom, or my God, and you have no right to tell me what legal substances I can or cannot ingest.

I guess I can in good conscience use my gift certificates, since Targe already has the money for them..but it’s burning my biscuits to even think of walking in there again.




  1. Pharmacists playing god… what next?

  2. My wife and I are looking at our Target shopping list right now to see if we can do without going there. Even if I have to pay more, I just feel like they deserve a serious boycotting. We’ll withhold our $42.90 per month — That’ll bring them to their knees!

    But seriously, I don’t want to shop there anymore. I find this sort of “activist pharmacism” very wrong.

  3. Well here’s a link at Americablog on this:

    Now Target is claiming that the 64 Civil Rights Act is what makes them have to let pharmacists discriminate against you!

    The who with the what now? That’s just crazy. I hope they get their assess sued and soon.

  4. Ugh, I got the same form letter response from them. I was *this close* to transferring my prescriptions to them after they came out with that smart new packaging.

    I’m trying to take hope from recent instance where CVS changed their policy after all of the negative press. Maybe Target will wise up too. Until then, I’ll shop elsewhere.

  5. If you don’t want to give people their prescriptions, then you’re not qualified to be a pharmacist. You are, however, qualified to be an asshole.

    I don’t like the direction our culture’s heading. Thank god for Planned Parenthood.

  6. Is target really so horrible for allowing someone to have personal convictions? Probably not. Thank god there are some people who will still make the decision they are convicted to make even in a hairy situation like this. Those are the ones you can trust to do the right thing even when no one is watching. You dont agree with their belief, but good grief, it’s not a big deal to get your undies in a bunch over.
    Anyone in the medical field has taken an oath to make the best judgements for preserving life and respecting patients. Allow them to do their best to hold that true.
    Sure, you can go as far as saying someone could refuse an individual of some ethnic group based on “religous beliefs” but that’s absurd.

    “If you don’t want to give people their prescriptions, then you’re not qualified to be a pharmacist. You are, however, qualified to be an asshole.”
    -Is the asshole the pharmacist (who already has a pretty thankless job for the amount of investment they have in the career) or the customer who is outraged about an already controversial drug and cant take 5 minutes to go across the street to the other pharmacy? geeze, it’s not a big deal.

    If you are getting antibiotics for the flu and got refused, then yeah, you have a right to be mad. If you are getting a new drug that is arguably ethically controversial, then try to have the same compassion you would want if you were put into a situation you felt was wrong.

  7. Anthony, this is a really old post, but I’ll go ahead and respond. a) Target has since changed their policy. B) Nothing prevents a pharmacist who thinks birth control=abortion or that Plan B is abortion (it isn’t; it takes place before implantation) or any other conviction from finding work someplace that respects his or her views.

    But here’s the deal; people with prescriptions are getting legal drugs, legally prescribed by their doctors, who have determined that they need them to be healthy. The pharmacist has no authority, nor should have, to interfere in that LEGAL process. If they want to quit, they can. If they want to try and get birth control made illegal, they can try. They have options. As total strangers, who neither know her nor her medical history nor her reasons for needing the drug, however, pharmacists cannot abrogate a woman’s rights, even for five minutes. Even for one minute. She is a citizen abiding by the law. And the bible recognized the importance of respecting the law of the land even when you don’t agree with it. Jesus was no anarchist.

    For example, even if my religion demanded putting you in jail for five minutes, on the grounds that it only really inconveniences you a little, would still be an outrage to your personal freedoms. Same issue.

    It doesn’t matter if the drug is controversial. It’s legal. Pharmacists are in the business of dispensing legal drugs. That is their job. Cops don’t have the right to not protect non-Christians. Fireman still have to put out fires even when they’re in crackhouses. That’s their job, too.

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