Biden addresses pharmacies: refusal to write prescriptions for birth control pills and abortion pills could violate federal law

Citing the provisions of the Affordable Care Act and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the memo asserts that federally funded pharmacies cannot discriminate based on their views on contraception and abortion “in relation to drug supplies; determining the suitability of the prescribed medication for the patient; or advising patients about medications and how to take them.” The guide includes several examples of situations that could be against the law, including a pharmacist’s refusal to write a prescription for the abortion pill mifepristone for a woman who has had an early miscarriage for which the pill is used.

A senior HHS official told reporters in a phone call Wednesday that patients who believe they have been discriminated against by the pharmacy can file a complaint with the agency’s Office of Civil Rights website, and that office will investigate and work with the pharmacy. about which there is a speech. “corrective action”.

This is the second abortion-related statement the Biden administration released this week that mostly consists of reformulating existing law rather than promulgating new policy or enforcement action, and progressive advocates and lawmakers alike continue to demand more.

On Monday the White House sent notes to hospitals across the country with a warning that failure to perform an abortion on a patient in need of emergency medical care, even in a state that had just banned the procedure, could violate the Emergency Medical Services and Labor Act.

While advocates and medical groups have welcomed the guidance, they have warned that it remains too vague to trust doctors in states that recently banned abortion and threaten doctors with jail time.

“We are in a scenario where doctors will have to figure out among themselves – and this can be different depending on which hospital you are in – what is the stabilizing state. How sick does a person have to be to decide whether he falls under the action of EMTAL or not? Christine Brandi, a New Jersey abortion provider and chair of the Reproductive Health Physicians Council, testified to the Senate Relief Committee on Wednesday. “It is not clear whether we will be protected. How do we know if we make the wrong choice?”

Megan Wilson contributed to this report.