The Biden administration declared on Wednesday that pharmacies must fill prescriptions for drugs that may stop a pregnancy.
More than 60,000 pharmacies in the United States received instructions from the Office for Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reminding them that pregnancy discrimination is prohibited because it is regarded as a form of sex discrimination under federal civil rights law. Every pharmacy that accepts Medicaid, Medicare, or any other form of federal financial assistance is subject to the law.
The warning on Wednesday came in response to stories of women being turned away for drugs that could stop pregnancies, whether they were taking them for that reason or another medical condition.
In a news release, HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra stated, “We are committed to ensuring that everyone can receive health care, free of prejudice.” Access to prescription drugs for sexual and reproductive health as well as other sorts of care are included.
If a pharmacy refuses to fill a prescription for emergency contraception to avoid pregnancy in a patient who has been sexually assaulted or sells condoms while refusing to fill emergency contraception prescriptions, it may be determined that the pharmacy discriminated against the patient. It might also be discriminatory to refuse to fill a prescription for hemoglobin in a person with a bleeding issue who is scheduled for a surgical abortion to lessen their risk of bleeding.
Methotrexate prescriptions cannot be stocked or filled without violating this rule. The prescription can potentially end a pregnancy even though it is meant to treat pain and swelling in patients with illnesses including rheumatoid arthritis, according to the advice.
The topic of pharmaceutical abortions was not particularly covered in the guidance released on Wednesday.
Since the U.S. Supreme Court eliminated a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion in late June, the Office for Civil Rights said it has received a lot of inquiries and complaints.
This is the latest attempt by the Biden administration to counter the Supreme Court’s ruling by pointing out that existing law would be more significant than any changes made by states where abortion may now be prohibited.
According to Attorney General Merrick Garland, mifepristone cannot be outlawed by individual states. Early pregnancy termination is accomplished using the FDA-approved drug.
An executive order protecting patient privacy, emergency contraception, and access to pharmaceutical abortion has also been signed by President Biden.
According to Biden, when an emergency arises, federal law takes precedence over state restrictions on abortion. If abortions are required to treat medical emergencies, including ectopic pregnancy and miscarriage complications, the federal government may find organizations or providers who do not offer them.
The US Department of Justice revealed on Tuesday that it will form a task force to figure out how to defend reproductive rights.
Anyone who feels they have experienced discrimination due to a current, past, planned, or projected pregnancy, or due to a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth, may contact the HHS or make a complaint online.