Pharmacies reduce women to their ‘child-bearing potential’ in states with abortion bans

Pharmacies reduce women to their ‘child-bearing potential’ in states with abortion bans

July 28, 2022 0 By Ellen Novack

Campaign Action

A CVS pharmacist in Tennessee refused to fill a prescription for methotrexate until one woman’s doctor called in to say it wasn’t for abortion. “By Tuesday morning, putting my pants on, my pain was like a 10,” Jennifer Crow told The New Republic’s Laura Weiss. The kicker is that Crow has had a hysterectomy, highlighting that pharmacists cannot look at a person and correctly assess her “child-bearing potential.”

”Even though my incident [was] resolved, I am not confident going forward that my methotrexate is secure,” Crow said, making her life with chronic illness that much more difficult.

A Texas woman who spoke to Weiss won’t be fighting with pharmacists to get her methotrexate, because her doctor changed her treatment for Crohn’s—increasing her risks from COVID-19 and other infectious diseases by increasing her dosage of immunosuppressive drugs.

An Arizona Walgreens employee told Weiss, “[I] just think it’s ridiculous that pharmacists have to jump through all these hoops to treat their patients. I understand pharmacists sometimes have to deny medications/clarify with doctors due to drug interactions or incorrect dosing, but this just feels invasive. Especially since it’s only for women. Men with autoimmune diseases who take these medications won’t have to deal with the same issues.”

The Biden administration warned recently that “pharmacies are prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, and disability in their programs and activities under a range of federal civil rights laws,” highlighting misoprostol and methotrexate in its examples of what that might look like. But the warning was without teeth, because the document explicitly said it would not and could not be enforced.

Proponents of these abortion bans will claim that there’s nothing in the law to prevent a pharmacist from filling a prescription for cancer or rheumatoid arthritis treatments. But that’s not actually true. The laws are so broad and so scary that of course pharmacists—and doctors—will hesitate to give care that could open them up to legal penalties.

”When you write laws that are overly-broad, institute a harsh enforcement mechanism, enforce those laws inconsistently, and empower a vast network of civilian snitches and spies, you create a climate of paranoia and fear,” Jill Filipovic writes. “You don’t need consistent enforcement, because people police themselves—and because the law is vague and the stakes so high, they over-police.”

Banning abortion was intended to force people to carry unwanted pregnancies to term—at whatever cost to life, health, or financial stability. That’s bad enough. Now Republicans compound that by showing that they are comfortable in making people—women and anyone else of “child-bearing potential,” specifically—suffer when their needed medications are blocked. Or when their wanted pregnancy turns into a complicated miscarriage. Or when they have ectopic pregnancy. The more different impacts of abortion bans we see, the more clearly we can see how little Republicans care for human life.

Abortion rights, climate change, and gun safety are all on the ballot this fall, and there are literally thousands of ways to get involved in turning our voters. Plug into a federal, state, or local campaign from our GOTV feed at Mobilize and help Democrats and progressives win in November.


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