Two Democratic lawmakers have reintroduced a bill that would prevent pharmacies from denying birth control based on religious beliefs.
Sen Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) Tuesday introduced the Access to Birth Control (ABC) Act in the House and Senate, a week after the Institute of Medicine (IOM) released a report recommending free contraceptives to all women.
"This legislation would prevent a pharmacy from interfering in the personal medical decisions made by a patient and her doctor," Lautenberg said in a press advisory Tuesday. "By guaranteeing access to birth control, we can ensure that women are never denied the right to make responsible decisions about their reproductive health."
"This recommendation from the IOM marks an important first step toward near-universal contraceptive coverage in America, but if women are denied the actual contraceptives when they go to their pharmacist, having no-cost contraceptives is rendered meaningless," Maloney announced as she introduced the bill.
"The ABC Act would make it illegal for a pharmacist to refuse to return a birth control prescription or for a pharmacist to intimidate, threaten or harass customers or intentionally breach or threaten to breach medical confidentiality."
NARAL president Nancy Keenan explained that federal action was necessary because "rogue pharmacists who are opposed to contraception are refusing to fill women's prescriptions."
A recent study by the Guttmacher Institute found that 99 percent of sexually active women -- including 98 percent of Catholics and almost 100 percent of evangelicals -- have used birth control at some point in their lives.