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Wal-Mart goes to Plan B

Wal-Mart has changed their mind; starting March 20, they will stock the Plan B emergency contraceptive at all their US pharmacies.
The full text of their press release, hot off their website:
Wal-Mart to Carry Plan B Emergency Contraception
Mar 3, 2006
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. today confirmed that all of its pharmacies will begin carrying Plan B contraceptives, effective March 20.

Conscientious objection policy allows pharmacists to refer customers to other providers.

Bentonville, Ark. (March 3, 2006) - Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. today confirmed that all of its pharmacies will begin carrying Plan B contraceptives, effective March 20. The company is currently required to sell the product in Illinois and Massachusetts, and pressure to introduce similar mandates is building in Connecticut and New York.

"We expect more states to require us to sell emergency contraceptives in the months ahead," said Ron Chomiuk, vice president of Pharmacy for Wal-Mart. "Because of this, and the fact that this is an FDA-approved product, we feel it is difficult to justify being the country's only major pharmacy chain not selling it."

Chomiuk said the company will maintain its conscientious objection policy, which is consistent with the tenets of the American Pharmaceutical Association. This policy, except where prohibited by law, allows any Wal-Mart or SAM'S CLUB pharmacy associate who does not feel comfortable dispensing a prescription to refer customers to another pharmacist or pharmacy.

"This decision has been made after careful consideration and in the belief that we are doing what is best for the business, while respecting our individual associates," Chomiuk said.
http://walmartstores.com/GlobalWMStoresWeb/navigate.do?catg=512&contId=6075

Time magazine has a quick analysis:
While Wal-Mart has never publicly objected to Plan B on principle (it says Plan B simply isn’t in great demand), it has nevertheless faced intense ideological pressure. "We've had women’s groups who felt that we should be selling it; we’ve had conservative Christian organizations that felt Wal-Mart was the last one taking a stand again the drug," says Mona Williams, a spokeswoman for the company. Wal-Mart has been considering the change for months; at a meeting in January of store managers, several lobbied for adding Plan B to the usual stock, arguing that the majority of Wal-Mart customers are women and would appreciate having it available.
http://www.time.com/time/business/article/0,8599,1169740,00.html

I happen to think that this is good news. Those who want to force women to bear children may well disagree - but I rather doubt there are many such folks reading this.

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