How the dismissal of Roe affects pregnancy products

After Roe v. Wade was overturned in June, access to some drugs and pharmacy products related to pregnancy, such as condoms, has been strained, and some pharmacies are scrambling to provide healthcare without breaking laws.

The Supreme Court's landmark decision sent shockwaves across the healthcare industry, and health systems and pharmacy chains have since been shoved into the front lines. Hours after the ruling, Amazon, CVS and Rite Aid momentarily limited Plan B purchases to three per person because of high demand. One health system in Missouri stopped doling out emergency contraceptives for a few hours because of confusion about the state's abortion law. 

Pharmacy policies

Recently, #BoycottWalgreens circulated social media after a worker allegedly refused to sell condoms to a couple because of his religious beliefs. The retail pharmacy chain later clarified its policy on Twitter, saying its pharmacists are allowed to not fill a prescription if they have "moral objections." 

Illinois senators then penned a letter to Walgreens, asking the company to post signs outside its pharmacy to indicate whether it employs workers who do not sell reproductive products. 

Walgreens spokesperson Fraser Engerman told Becker's some locations are constraining access to some items because of state laws. 

"Our focus is meeting the needs of our patients and making sure they have access to the medications they need, in compliance with applicable pharmacy laws and regulations," Mr. Engerman said. "Trigger laws in various states require additional steps for dispensing certain prescriptions and apply to all pharmacies, including Walgreens."

On Aug. 8, a Minnesota jury sided with a pharmacist who refused to fill a prescription for Ella, an emergency contraceptive, in 2019. The case is thought to be the first of its kind in the U.S., indicating that the decision could be the precedent for future lawsuits. 

National grocery store chains Kroger and Costco refused Becker's requests for comment.

Abortion pills

Medication abortion, a two-step regimen approved by the FDA to terminate a pregnancy in the frist 10 weeks, is slated to become the next battleground for anti-abortion groups. 

CVS told some of its workers to prod the reason behind prescriptions for methotrexate, a rheumatoid arthritis drug that can induce an abortion, and misoprostol, one of the two pills used for medication abortion. Methotrexate is also sometimes prescribed for cancer patients, but without a doctor's note explaining why a patient is prescribed it, CVS workers can't fill it. 

People who use methotrexate reported in June they were barred from refilling their prescriptions. Four other drugs, such as anticonvulsants and blood pressure medications, could soon face a similar struggle because of their risk to pregnant people. 

Two anti-abortion groups, Students for Life of America and National Right to Life Committee, are filing lawsuits aimed at suppressing the use of medication abortion, The Washington Post reported. Medication abortion, which is illegal in a handful of states, accounts for more than 50 percent of the nation's abortions.

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