Wal-Mart must stock the morning-after pill in its Massachusetts stores, the state pharmacy board ruled on Tuesday.
A Wal-Mart spokesman said that the company would comply with the orders by the Massachusetts Board of Pharmacy but is reviewing its policy on the Plan B drug, also known as the emergency contraception pill. Yesterday, Massachusetts became the second state in the nation to require that the pill be carried in stores after Illinois, where Wal-Mart also carries the pills.
Clearly womens health is a high priority for Wal-Mart, said spokesman Dan Fogleman, according to the Associated Press. We are actively thinking through the issue.
The decision by the pharmacy board comes in the midst of legal battles being waged against retailers for their policies regarding the drug.
Two weeks ago, three women, backed by pro-abortion groups including Planned Parenthood Massachusetts and NARAL pro-choice Massachusetts, sued the nationwide retailer for not carrying the pill in its stores in the state. They claimed that state policy requires that pharmacies provide all commonly prescribed medicines.
Pro-life groups, including various Christian organizations, however, oppose Plan B, saying it not only stops the fertilization of eggs, but sometimes also prevents embryos from implanting into the womans uterus, which they say is equivalent to abortion.
In January, four pro-life pharmacists in Illinois, supported by the conservative legal group American Center for Law and Justice, sued Walgreens for requiring that they dispense the pill, a move which they say breaks a conscience law which allows accommodation for religious objections to prescribing the drug.
I have firm religious beliefs, and I choose not to destroy a human being, said Richard Quayle, one of the pharmacists in Illinois, in a report last December by AP. The 54-year-old from Highland, Ill., made no apologies for refusing to violate his religious beliefs and dispense emergency contraception.
If you prevent the egg from implanting in the uterus, you prevent that from becoming a human being, he said.
Quayle, who is a Baptist, believes that life begins at conception.