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The Associated Press reports this morning that Kroger has run headlong into the same controversy that affected Wal-Mart not too long ago – one of its pharmacists refused to dispense the “morning after” contraceptive pill, despite the fact that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the pill to be available without a prescription. The pill does, however, have to be handed out by a pharmacist to prevent its use by people under age 18.

The event took place in Rome, Georgia, and pro-choice activists have called on Kroger to guarantee that the pill is available at all its pharmacies, regardless of the personal preferences of individual pharmacists.

Kroger has not responded to the controversy on the record. However, Dionne Vann, Georgia director of the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League, says that she has been told that the Rome store does not stock the pill because of its pharmacist doesn’t want to dispense it for moral reasons.

According to the AP, “Last year, Georgia's Legislature considered a bill that would have allowed pharmacists to refuse to fill prescriptions for drugs they believe terminate pregnancies. The plan passed the Senate but was defeated in the House, with some members arguing it would prevent rape victims from preventing pregnancies.

Other national pharmacy chains have policies dealing with emergency contraception and how to dispense it. CVS Corp., Rite-Aid Corp. and Walgreen Co. not only offer the pill throughout their networks, but also pledge to ensure that customers can buy Plan B onsite even if a given employee declines to provide service for reasons of conscience.”
KC's View:
This story will inevitably ignite a lot of passion and opinion – though we’ll never come to any sort of agreement.

At the risk of ticking off a lot of folks, we’ll repeat our opinion. If a company is going to be in the pharmacy business, it probably shouldn’t allow individual pharmacists to being making value judgments for customers.