Walgreens serves millions of people every day, but some people will be switching due to recent controversies involving multiple family planning products. This all started the last week when a shopper was denied purchasing condoms due to a cashier’s religious beliefs, to which the customer called the retail giant out on Twitter, which ended up going viral.
We went to Hayward to get some groceries and a stop at @Walgreens because we had left Jess birth control at home. As Jess was checking out, cashier John told her he couldn’t sell her the condoms. “Oh I got them from over there.”
“We can, but I won’t because of my faith.” 1/x
— Nate Pentz (@natepentz) July 3, 2022
People could not believe the customers were refused condoms and thought maybe it was a one-off thing from one Walgreens. Unfortunately, it does not stop there. One TikToker tried to get her birth control and was faced with a similar result. TikTok influencer Abigail Martin had a hard time refilling her birth control after that call and went over a week before it could be filled.
She was also told that the pharmacy was having a hard time filling prescriptions regarding birth control for other women as well, which is alarming. Martin commented on her video about the physical symptoms of being without her birth control, which she reports she has been on since she was 15, saying “also, since I haven’t gotten it yet I’ve had a week and a half long period, crazy nauseous, cramps, etc. all because my body isn’t used to being off of it.
Many in the comments could not believe this, especially since some people do not take birth control pills just for contraceptive purposes. According to the National Coalition for Sexual Health, “58 percent of pill users use the pill for at least one purpose other than pregnancy prevention, with 31 percent of the 58 percent using birth control methods for cramps or menstrual pain.” Several people wondered how this employee was allowed to continue to work there or how others were allowed to refuse condom purchases. But, apparently, the answer is alarmingly simple. In 2018, Walgreens confirmed on Twitter pharmacists can “ step away from filling a prescription for which they have a moral objection.”
Our policy allows pharmacists to step away from filling a prescription for which they have a moral objection. At the same time, they are also required to refer the prescription to another pharmacist or manager on duty to meet the patient's needs in a timely manner.
— Walgreens (@Walgreens) June 25, 2018
But, Walgreens also confirmed a pharmacist must “refer the prescription to another pharmacist or manager on duty to meet the patient’s needs in a timely manner.” Many pointed out how this was not the procedure used in Martin’s case, as the pharmacist told her she would have to call her provider to have the prescription refilled. According to a comment from Walgreens made to Best Life Online.com, “Instances like this are very rare and our policies are designed to ensure we meet the needs of our patients and customers while respecting the religious and moral beliefs of our team members.”
Hard to believe in 2022 that @Walgreens is allowing their pharmacists to object to filling birth control refills or selling condoms, what the actual f*ck?
Guess it's time to #BoycottWalgreens.
— BrooklynDad_Defiant!☮️ (@mmpadellan) July 19, 2022
Still, although Walgreens seemed to state instances like this do not happen often, many were unnerved to see they happened at all. This is what caused people to boycott. #BoycottWalgreens has been trending on Twitter as people protested the policies. Although people wanted to be respectful of religious beliefs, many reiterated it was unacceptable that birth control would take so long to be refilled as people rely on it and the reason they take it should not be anyone’s business.
— Tutu4now (@tutu4now) July 18, 2022
For example, one Twitter user wrote “Allowing employees to refuse to ring someone up for birth control is really bad customer service. This will cause customers to feel uncomfortable at the checkout. My $24,000+ a year in prescriptions for the past 4 years will be going elsewhere.” One Twitter user even noted as a formal employee “The training absolutely focuses more on when one can or should deny a medication than it does on respecting patient rights.” So, it seems many people will be opting to use a different pharmacy, with some people opting to have their birth control mailed to them to avoid any hassle, but it is too soon to see whether this will impact Walgreens on changing their policies.