This case involves a number of pharmacists refusing to refill prescriptions for emergency contraception. Writing prescriptions for emergency contraception is the standard of care, both in New York State and throughout the U.S., because it is necessary to have access to the drug as soon as possible after unprotected sex in order for it to be effective.
On Aug. 9, 2006, the NYCLU Reproductive Rights Project filed a complaint in the New York State Department of Education, Office of the Professions and Discipline on behalf of health care providers at Planned Parenthood Mohawk/Hudson against pharmacists in two pharmacies (one in Saratoga and the other in Gloversville) who had refused to honor refills in prescriptions for Plan B emergency contraception. Plan B emergency contraception (otherwise known as “the morning after pill” or “EC”) is a drug that can prevent a pregnancy from occurring for up to 72 hours after sexual intercourse. The complaint sought disciplinary action against the pharmacists on the grounds that their actions lacked medical justification and exceeded the scope of their authority, violated the New York State pharmacy laws that prohibit the neglect of a patient, breached their duty of care to their patients, and violated New York State sex discrimination law.
The complaint also asked the Pharmacy Board to clarify its guidelines by stating that, absent a health-related justification, a pharmacist must log and dispense refills for all prescriptions and that a pharmacist’s refusal to do so on the basis of sex would constitute a violation of New York State’s discrimination law. On April 11, 2007, the Office of the Professions notified the NYCLU that it had closed the complaints without taking any disciplinary action.
New York State Department of Education, Office of the Professions (direct)