Mo. Senate Approves Bill Allowing Pharmacies To Refuse To Carry Emergency Contraception

April 8, 2013 — The Missouri Senate on Thursday voted 24-9 to approve legislation (SB 126) that would allow pharmacies in the state to refuse to stock certain drugs, including emergency contraception, the AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. The measure now advances to the House.

The bill -- sponsored by state Sen. David Sater (R), a pharmacist -- states that no licensed pharmacy "shall be required to carry or maintain in inventory any specific prescription or nonprescription drug or device." Although the measure does not mention birth control, Sater said the bill was prompted by efforts elsewhere to require that pharmacies fill EC prescriptions.

Democrats said that they oppose the measure because of its potential to allow pharmacists to deny access to EC.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, five states require pharmacies to fill prescriptions, although courts in two states have ruled that the laws cannot be enforced against pharmacies that refuse to dispense EC. A larger number of states have laws that explicitly allow pharmacies or pharmacists to refuse to provide EC.

Separately, state Rep. Stacey Newman (D) has filed separate legislation (HB 518) that would require pharmacies to fill prescriptions for contraception. However, the measure has not been referred to a committee, suggesting that it is unlikely to pass (Lieb, AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 4/4).