Legislators urge Walgreens to change reproductive product policy

After an alleged incident of a Walgreens worker refusing to sell condoms spurred a barrage of calls for a boycott, U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth of Illinois pressed the retail pharmacy to renew its policies.

In early June, a tweet went viral and multiple news outlets picked up the story of a Walgreens worker refusing to sell contraceptives because of religious reasons. Within days, #BoycottWalgreens flooded social media timelines. 

When asked about the alleged incident, Walgreens tweeted June 24, "Our policy allows pharmacists to step away from filling a prescription for which they have a moral objection. At the same time, they are also required to refer the prescription to another pharmacist or manager on duty to meet the patient's needs in a timely manner."

In a letter to Walgreens, Mr. Durbin and Ms. Duckworth say this policy infringes on people's right to privacy because "the employee who refuses to complete a transaction involving contraceptives must communicate her objection to a fellow employee."

"In the process of respecting the beliefs of your employees, as one of your customers explained, the cashier who refused to sell condoms 'proceeded to embarrass me in front of other customers for my reproductive choices,'" the letter reads, citing the viral tweet.

The senators asked the company to place signs in stores that employ "pharmacists and/or cashiers who refuse to dispense contraceptives and other forms of birth control" and inform customers of its policy. 

After the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the HHS clarified that refusing to distribute products related to pregnancy is discriminatory. Other efforts to protect reproductive health include the Right to Contraception Act, which the House passed on July 21 and is currently waiting in the Senate.

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