Drawing the Line: The Legal, Ethical and Public Policy Implications of Refusal Clauses for Pharmacists

This Article traces the history and development of refusal clauses and describes the context in which the debate takes place, including the role the abortion controversy plays and the recent decision of the FDA approving over-the-counter sale of emergency contraception to adult women. Using the framework of feminist legal methodology, the Article examines the harms alleged both by the women denied access to contraception and the pharmacists who refuse to dispense it. The Article also analyzes Supreme Court cases interpreting the First and Fourteenth Amendments as they apply to refusal clauses. It concludes by recommending legislation that would require all pharmacies, not pharmacists, to dispense legal contraception, thereby protecting the reproductive rights of women while allowing for the limited accommodation of individual pharmacists in conformity with current constitutional jurisprudence.