July 27, 2022

Durbin: Women's Rights to Contraception is in Jeopardy in the Post-Roe America

In a speech on the Senate floor, Durbin shared the story of a woman who went to a Walgreens pharmacy to refill her birth control prescription and was turned away by a pharmacist; Durbin is pressing Walgreens for answers

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today detailed how the conservative Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization is threatening the constitutional right to contraception—which is protected under the Court’s 1965 ruling in Griswold v. Connecticut.  Justice Thomas’s concurring opinion in Dobbs called for Griswold, among other cases, to be reconsidered because they were, in his view, “demonstrably erroneous.”  In a speech on the Senate floor, Durbin discussed a recent USA TODAY story about Abigail Martin, who went to a Walgreens pharmacy to refill her birth control prescription, which had been prescribed by her doctor, but was turned away by a pharmacist.  It took four days before she was finally able to access her medication with the help of a different pharmacist.

“Apparently, Walgreens allows its pharmacists to refuse to fill a prescription if they have a ‘religious or moral conviction’ and refer the customer to another employee or manager on duty who can complete the transaction,” Durbin said.  “Since Abigail’s story went viral, other Walgreens customers have come forward to say that cashiers refused to ring up their condoms because [doing so] violated their faith.  A pharmacist should not be able to unilaterally decide that their personal, moral, or religious beliefs can delay or interfere with the medical needs of a patient standing at the cash register buying a legal medication.”

During his floor speech, Durbin announced that he will be sending a letter to the CEO of Walgreens this week about Walgreens’ policy.

“If Walgreens is going to allow its individual employees to dictate what legal medical products their customers can purchase, then the company should make this policy known to the public.  They should be required to display signs at their cash registers alerting customers and the public that they may not be able to fill their prescriptions or buy health care products in a timely manner.  Given this information, customers may decide to take their business elsewhere to a pharmacy that does not allow individual staff members to restrict or interfere with a customer’s legal purchasing decisions,” Durbin said.

Durbin then urged his colleagues to support the Right to Contraception Act, introduced by Senators Ed Markey (D-MA) and Patty Murray (D-WA).  Durbin is a cosponsor of this common sense legislation, which would codify the right to contraception nationwide.

“A woman’s right to essential health care should not differ based on which pharmacy she chooses, who fills her prescription, or who rings it up.  Her right to this personal decision in her life is fundamental.  That’s why Congress must pass the Right to Contraception Act, introduced by Senators Markey and Murray,” Durbin said.  “This is a common sense proposal, and I’ve cosponsored it.  It would codify the right to contraception in America nationwide, the right that has been undisputed for 55 years.  We need this legislation because now women in America are living with the consequences of six unelected justices erasing the constitutional right to reproductive health care, and the pharmacies like Walgreens [that] are allowing their employees to dictate what health care products their consumers are able to purchase.”

Durbin concluded, “If protecting this right sounds like common sense to you, then join us in supporting the Right to Contraception Act.  If the Supreme Court will not respect this fundamental, personal right, you have the right to demand that your Member of Congress will.”

Video of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here for TV Stations.

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