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Saturday, November 12, 2005

Reinforcing my resolve
Posted by Jill | 9:38 AM

I'm not going to say that I'm a serious Target shopper. Their clothes are awful, and for accessories I usually go to Kohl's. But for house things -- curio shelves, towel racks, glassware, dishes, kitchen electrics, that sort of thing; Target offers nice-looking stuff at a reasonable price. Until recently, Target took up the void left in my life when Bradlee's went out of business. K-Mart is just TOO schlocky, and the buckle on my handbag triggers their "security system" every time I leave the store, which results in K-Mart security doing things like inquiring where I purchased every item of clothing I have on.

It's easy for me to say "I won't shop at Wal-Mart", since there's no Wal-Mart near me; and Target has been there instead.

So boycotting Target does cause a certain amount of inconvenience, which I guess is what a boycott should do.

But in case I was starting to get wobbly; figuring that I'm just one person so I don't matter, or since I'm menopausal, it's no longer of my concern, this article has reinforced my resolve to never set foot in a Target again as long as its policy of letting Christofascist Zombie pharmacists dictate what prescriptions they're willing to fill remains in place:

Target Corp. is defending its policy on filling prescriptions for emergency contraception after the Planned Parenthood Federation of America accused the retailer of disrespecting customers' reproductive rights.

Target allows pharmacists to choose not to fill requests for emergency contraception, also known as Plan B, if it is against their religious beliefs.

The issue has caused an ongoing debate nationwide between people who oppose abortion because of religious beliefs and those in favor of abortion rights.

Emergency contraception primarily delays ovulation long enough for sperm to die without fertilizing an egg. Those who oppose the drug say it could cause an abortion, but medical experts disagree.

Though other retailers have similar policies, Planned Parenthood officials say Target's policy is especially burdensome to customers. If one pharmacist refuses to dispense the drugs, the customer could have to travel to another store to get it.

It's an unnecessary inconvenience and embarrassment to the customer, said Jackie Payne, assistant director of government relations for the Planned Parenthood Federation in Washington. The timing is crucial for emergency contraception and could be a problem especially for women in rural areas, Payne said.

"Basically, they don't want to absorb the burden," she said of Target. "They would rather pass that on to the customer."

But Target defends its policy, pointing out that if the pharmacist refuses to dispense the drug, he or she must pass it on to another pharmacist at the same location. If none is available, the pharmacist must call another Target and make sure the drug is available for the customer.

"We are committed to getting these prescriptions filled," said Lena Michaud, spokeswoman for Target Stores. "But we also have to respect associates with strongly held religious beliefs."

In a company statement, Target officials added that their policy follows recommendations made by the American Pharmacists Association. It's a rare event that a pharmacist's beliefs conflict with a request for emergency contraception, officials said.

"Under no circumstances can the pharmacist prevent the prescription from being filled, make discourteous or judgmental remarks, or discuss his or her religious beliefs with the guest," Target's statement said.

Planned Parenthood officials say if Target allows pharmacists to refuse to fill a prescription, they should think about adopting other ways to satisfy the customer. For example, other retailers have the emergency contraception delivered if pharmacists at the store refuse to fill it.

"All I want (Target) to do is to offer a minimum standard that the customer gets what she needs," Payne said. "And they won't do that."

If Target is known as a Christofascist-friendly store, to the point that every Target is populated by pharmacists refusing to fill these prescriptions, the offer to call another store is meaningless. For that matter, if a pharmacist's religious beliefs prevent him/her from FILLING an emergency contraception prescription, then shouldn't those beliefs prevent him/her from facilitating the so-called "abortion" by even CALLING another store?

And why should the customer be inconvenienced? Right now it is about 22 miles from the nearest Target store to me to the next-nearest. But I'm lucky -- I live in a progressive state that's highly built-up and has any number of drugstores within a 5-mile radius. But what of women in states where the Target pharmacy, or the Wal-Mart pharmacy, is the only one available within 25 miles?

In my early years out of college, I worked as a department manager in department stores. During that time, I had to take back as a return a handbag purchased 20 years earlier because the customer said it didn't wear well. I took back jewelry with the tags removed that we'd carried four years earlier. Another department managers showed me a pair of jeans that the store manager had made her take back that had menstrual blood on them. If a customer had a charge card, they could bring back something bought anywhere, and we were required to take it back into stock. If it had been marked down to 75% off, and they had a charge card and kicked up a fuss, they got full price back. That's what the policy was -- the customer is always right.

I think that notion can be taken to extreme, as evidenced by the bloody jeans described above. But the idea that a pharmacist can be allowed by a retail company to refuse to fill a prescribed drug -- not because of a drug interaction of which the doctor might not be aware, but because of his own prejudices -- is appalling. Would a white supremacist pharmacist be allowed to refuse to fill prescriptions for black people? Would a Christian Scientist pharmacist be allowed to refuse to fill prescriptions for drugs at all? Would a Scientologist pharmacist be allowed to refuse to fill prescriptions for antidepressants? Of course not. This is Target specifically endorsing the American Taliban agenda. And for that reason, Target does not deserve to take in any of our money.
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