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'Conscience Clause' may allow retailers to opt out of selling emergency contraceptive


POSTED: Friday, June 14, 2013 - 5:50pm

UPDATED: Friday, June 14, 2013 - 6:35pm

The morning after pill will soon be sold over the counter. But now, drug stores are facing a tough decision because of something called the 'conscience clause,' pharmacists are not required to sell the Plan B One Step pill if they're morally opposed to it. But once the emergency contraception hits shelves, does that mean the clause applies to all employees?

Plan B One Step may soon be neighbor to other over-the-counter medication. However, unlike other drugs, it doesn't carry the controversial weight that Plan B does. "I mean, I can understand trying to have it more accessible. But, on the other hand, I think that there should be someone intervening," Michelle Toenniges of Las Cruces said.

"I just think they shouldn't have it out, or they shouldn't have it as they do, now." Alexandra Sanchez of East El Paso explained. Right now, the emergency contraceptive is available over-the-counter to anyone older than 17-years-old. However, after the Obama administration backed away from its fight to keep age restrictions on this medication, anyone older than 15 may be able to purchase the pill.

According to the 'conscience clause,' pharmacists are not legally obliged to sell the pill if it conflicts with their morals. But now, retailers everywhere are debating whether or not to extend that clause to all employees. For instance, the cashier ringing up your purchase.

"I don't think that they should say downright, well because of my religion I won't carry anything like this," Toenniges said.

"No, I don't believe that their beliefs should get in the way. 'Cause that's what they're there for," Sanchez said.

If it does, legal experts say if one employee does not feel comfortable selling the drug, another may be able to make the sale. The manufacturer of Plan B One Step has to submit new documents to the FDA and they also have to make new packaging for the pill that shows it's safe for women of all ages to take. Hence, it may take awhile before you see the pill in the drug aisle.  

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