Ragged Claws

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

My letter to Target


There are Targets next to the train stations at both ends of my commute. The stores offer convenient access to inexpensive products, and I usually enjoy shopping at them. I would like to continue to shopping at them in the future.

However, I've come to the realization that I can no longer support a company which permits its pharmacists to arbitrarily deny female customers access to medication, specifically to the emergency contraceptive known as "Plan B." While Target contends that its policies strike a reasonable balance between the needs of the customer and the religious rights of employees, this claim does not stand up to scrutiny. Given the time constraints involved in the use of emergency contraception, a pharmacist's refusal to fill a valid prescription is no trivial matter. Transferring prescriptions to another pharmacy is an unsatisfactory solution, both because of the burden imposed on the customer to travel to the new location (which may not be feasible if she depends on public transportation, has a strict work schedule, etc.) and because Target cannot guarantee that a third party will treat customers any more professionally than did Target itself. If Target pharmacists oppose emergency contraception, then by all means they should refrain from using it. But the decision as to whether others should purchase legal, in-stock medication is not the pharmacists' to make.

I might have more respect for Target's position if it treated the "religious rights" of all employees equally - for example, if Scientologist pharmacists could refuse to fill prescriptions for psychotropic medications, Jainist cashiers could refuse to ring up meat-based products, and devotees of the Flying Spaghetti Monster could abstain from any job activities which might profane His Noodly Appendage. Such a stance would at least be philosophically consistent (and would make going to Target an entertainingly wacky experience). But when the only religious beliefs granted special consideration are those of a pinched fundamentalism, obsessed with control of women's sexuality, I have to conclude that Target fears right-wing critics more than it values the health of its female customers. Until Target gives me reason to believe that it prioritizes the needs of customers over the bigotry of a few employees, I will not shop there and will encourage my friends not to do so either.

Thank you for your time and attention.