One of the first errands I ran when I moved to Columbia was to find a new pharmacy and update my prescriptions. I had no idea that depending on where I went and who I spoke to would determine whether or not I could get those prescriptions filled.
I walked into my local CVS and handed over the stack of prescriptions to the round-faced, elderly gentleman behind the counter.
After noticing the Chicago address on the old prescription forms, he asked what had brought me to South Carolina. I told him that I had gotten a new job, and was thrilled to be leaving the snow for the sun. He chuckled, then asked,
“Did your husband get a new job?” the pharmacist asked. I replied that I wasn't married.
“Well, then I can’t fill this for you,” the pharmacist said, handing me back the prescription for monthly birth control pills.
Under South Carolina law, the pharmacist was completely within his right to refuse to fill my birth control. He told me that he didn't believe it was proper for unmarried women to use contraceptives. He suggested that I come back in an hour (when the other pharmacist would be there) or visit another CVS location.
I was in shock - and as I left the pharmacy, I wondered how someone could override a medical treatment prescribed to me by my doctor. It didn't matter what my birth control was for, or how long I had been on it, or whether or not I was using the prescription responsibly. This was a blanket refusal on any and all women practicing a lifestyle that this single person didn't agree with.
If that was the case, why did this man become a pharmacist? I don't like guns, which is one reason why you won't find me working behind the counter in an armory - and certainly won't find me refusing to sell guns to people based on my personal beliefs (although that's not a bad idea...).
I have shared this story in the past. I testified before a State Senate committee in January 2012. My story was published alongside Tell Them's efforts to stop a proposed law that would have expanded the right to refuse. And I have talked to thousands of South Carolinians about the impact that this experience had on my health.
It is important to tell our stories - to show that there is a human cost to restrictive legislation. To illustrate that allowing a single individual's ideology to overshadow someone else's medical treatment has consequences. It's time for us to stand together, a unified voice of reason, and tell our stories.
Has someone ever stood between you and your birth control? Let us know by sharing your story here.