BOSTON - February 14 - Following is a statement of Melissa Kogut, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts, at press conference in response to Pharmacy Board decision requiring Wal-Mart to stock emergency contraception:
Just two weeks ago, I stood here in support of three courageous women as they announced their lawsuit against Wal-Mart after they had been turned away when they attempted to fill prescriptions for Plan B. Today, I am delighted to announce that the Massachusetts Pharmacy Board has declared in a unanimous opinion that Wal-Mart must stock Plan B. This decision reflects the values of fairness and privacy that a vast majority of Massachusetts residents support.
The Pharmacy Board has done the right thing. Now, we call on Wal-Mart to do the right thing -- not only in Massachusetts but across the country: Wal-Mart should stock Plan B in all of its pharmacies and replace its current policy of discrimination with one that puts women’s health first.
Yesterday, in partnership with NARAL Pro-Choice America, we sent more than 26,000 messages from all 50 states to Wal-Mart's headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas urging the retailer to reverse its policy of refusing to carry the "morning after pill."
The message from Americans is clear -- the public wants pharmacies to be a resource for medical care, not a barrier.
Just a few days ago, a Wal-Mart spokesperson indicated that for the first time Wal-Mart may be rethinking its policy. The plaintiffs here in Massachusetts can be proud that their voices have been heard. We will be sure that the voices of Americans all over the country will continue to be heard as well.
Emergency Contraception has tremendous potential to reduce unintended pregnancy and the need for abortion but only if women have access to this back-up method soon after unprotected sex, contraceptive failure or rape. Wal-Mart needs to change its policies not only to be in line with state regulations, but because it has a responsibility to meet the basic health needs of women.