Both Men And Women Have The Right To Buy Emergency Contraception

Contact:  Dotty Griffith, Public Education Director, ACLU of Texas, (832) 291-4776; [email protected]

HOUSTON – The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Texas and the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project today called upon a Texas CVS store to cease gender discrimination by refusing to sell emergency contraception to men. A CVS store in Mesquite, Texas refused to sell emergency contraception (EC) to customer Jason Melbourne in late November.

“The CVS employees’ actions are inconsistent with FDA policy, which clearly permits men and women over the age of 17 to purchase EC without a prescription,” said Lisa Graybill, ACLU of Texas Legal Director.

"I was shocked and outraged when the pharmacist refused to sell this product to me," said Mr. Melbourne, a married father of two who was seeking the medication for his wife.  "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."  After his wife called a number of other pharmacies, Melbourne obtained emergency contraception at a nearby competitor without incident.

“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 the letter, ACLU attorneys Graybill and Amiri requested “a prompt response as to the steps [CVS] will take to investigate the situation and take necessary corrective action,” as well as a copy of CVS’s corporate policy regarding EC.  The attorneys also requested CVS apologize to Mr. Melbourne.

This is not an isolated occurrence; the ACLU has received similar complaints in Texas, Mississippi, and Oklahoma from several different stores. Early last year, the ACLU of Texas delivered a petition with more than 2,000 signatures to Walgreens’ corporate headquarters, urging the pharmaceutical giant to cease gender discrimination in the sale of emergency contraception, known as “EC” or “Plan B,” and support a couple’s right to make contraception decisions.

Walgreens has assured the ACLU of Texas that it has taken steps to prevent a repeat of cases of gender discrimination after male customers at two Texas stores were not allowed to purchase emergency contraception.

Click here for a copy of the ACLU’s letter to the CVS store in Mesquite.