President Joe Biden’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued guidance Wednesday reminding pharmacists of an alleged legal obligation to fulfill prescriptions for abortion pills.
HHS wrote in its guidance that pharmacists who receive Medicare or Medicaid funding are prohibited by federal nondiscrimination law from discriminating based on sex, including when supplying prescribed medications or determining the suitability of prescribed medications for patients. The department cited federal civil rights law that prohibits “pregnancy discrimination,” which includes medical conditions related to pregnancy and childbirth.
BREAKING: Federal officials are warning pharmacies to comply with civil rights law amid reports of women being denied abortion drugs.
“Discrimination against pregnant people on the basis of their pregnancy or related conditions…is a form of sex discrimination” HHS says
— Dan Diamond (@ddiamond) July 13, 2022
“We are committed to ensuring that everyone can access health care, free of discrimination,” HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said. “This includes access to prescription medications for reproductive health and other types of care.”
“The Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS or Department) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) is responsible for protecting the rights of women and pregnant people in their ability to access care that is free from discrimination,” the guidance reads. “This includes their ability to access reproductive health care, including prescription medication from their pharmacy, free from discrimination.”
The HHS document lists examples of discrimination according to these laws, which includes a refusal to give a patient plan B after a sexual assault. It also refers to pregnancy at one point as the “growing of cells.” (RELATED: Elizabeth Warren Calls To ‘Shut Down’ Crisis Pregnancy Centers Amid Pro-Abortion Attacks)
In a press release, the department outlined the steps the Biden administration has taken since the overturning of Roe v. Wade to protect abortion access, including launching ReproductiveRights.gov and announcing $3 million in new funding to train “family planning providers.”