Women sue Wal-Mart over access to emergency contraception
Associated Press February 1, 2006BOSTON --
Three Massachusetts women backed by pro-abortion rights groups sued Wal-Mart on Wednesday, saying the retail giant violated state law by failing to stock emergency contraception pills in its pharmacies.
The suit filed in Suffolk Superior Court seeks a court order compelling Wal-Mart to stock the so-called "morning after pill," in its 44 Massachusetts pharmacies.
"Wal-Mart apparently thinks it is above the law," said Sam Perkins, a lawyer for the three plaintiffs.
A new state law that took effect late last year following heated debate on Beacon Hill requires all hospitals to provide the morning-after pill to rape victims. It also allows pharmacists to dispense the pill without a prescription, but does not require it.
Instead, the suit, backed by Planned Parenthood of Massachusetts, NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts and Jane Doe Inc., argues Wal-Mart is violating a provision of the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Law that requires pharmacies to provide all "commonly prescribed medicines."
"Massachusetts pharmacies are required to stock all medications that are commonly prescribed to meet the usual needs of the community," Perkins said.
A spokesman for Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart did not immediately a call from The Associated Press on Wednesday.
A company spokeswoman, Sarah Clark, told The Boston Globe that Wal-Mart doesn't stock the morning-after pill for "business reasons," but she declined to elaborate.
The plaintiffs are Katrina McCarty of Somerville, Julie Battel of Boston, and Rebekah Gee, of Boston. All three were turned away when they tried to buy emergency contraception pills at area Wal-Marts.
Some abortion opponents believe emergency contraception is a form of abortion because it blocks the fertilized egg from being implanted on the uterine wall.