Some Stores Refuse To Sell Emergency Contraception To Men

Contact: Dotty Griffith, Public Education Director, ACLU Foundation of Texas
(512) 478-7300 x 106 or 923-1909;

AUSTIN – The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Texas and the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project Tuesday called upon Walgreens to follow company policy and cease gender discrimination by refusing to sell emergency contraception to men.

“We know from complaints we have received that pharmacists at stores in Texas and Mississippi have failed to follow FDA guidelines and company policy,” said Lisa Graybill, ACLU of Texas Legal Director. Most recently, a Houston man, Adam Drake, contacted the ACLU when he was refused the sale of emergency contraception at a neighborhood Walgreens because no female accompanied him.

"I was shocked when the pharmacist refused to sell this product to me," said Drake. "After complaining to the store manager, it became clear to me that I was not the first man this happened to. I am speaking out because I don't want anyone else to experience the discrimination or invasion of privacy to which I was subjected." Drake obtained emergency contraception at a nearby competitor without incident.

Last summer, Walgreens responded to similar complaints by issuing a bulletin to all of their pharmacies nationwide instructing them that emergency contraception can be sold to “male and female customers age 17 and older.” The bulletin also said that a male customer who asks to purchase emergency contraception need not be “accompanied by a female, and does not need to identify the individual for whom he is purchasing the product.”

“Couples who decide to make healthy family planning decisions together should not face discrimination at the pharmacy and shouldn’t face unnecessary obstacles. Time is of the essence when it comes to emergency contraception,” said Brigitte Amiri, Senior Staff Attorney, ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project.

In a letter to Walgreens corporate office, ACLU attorneys Graybill and Amiri requested “that you take immediate action to ensure that this does not happen again. We suggest training of all pharmacists and store managers, as well as ‘secret shoppers’ to ensure compliance with your corporate policy and FDA guidelines. Although it is ultimately incumbent on you to ensure such compliance, we will also be activating our ACLU members in Texas to inform their local Walgreens of the corporate policy that requires them to sell EC [emergency contraception] to men seventeen years and older.”

Today, the ACLU of Texas distributed an action alert petition asking approximately 20,000 supporters to contact their local Walgreens and demand compliance.