Controversy Surrounding Birth Control

There have been many controversies surrounding the topic of birth control. While there are multiple different forms of birth control, however, only some forms seem to be more controversial over the others. Those controversies to be discussed in the following paper will focus on whether pharmacists should or shouldn’t be allowed to refuse to fill birth control prescriptions. While briefly describing all the different forms of birth control, the focus will be surrounding hormonal birth control, since these are the main forms of birth control that pharmacist’s refuse to fill.

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First, a brief description of the different forms of birth control, including hormonal and nonhormonal forms. Birth control can be roughly divided into five different groups, including hormonal methods, barrier methods, intrauterine device (IUD), natural methods and finally emergency contraception (Birth Control Options). Hormonal methods would be combining hormones including the pill, patch and nuva-ring, and a progestin-only method like a progestin-only pill or Depo-Provera. Barrier methods including condoms, either internal or external, spermicides like VCF, foam, gel or sponge, a diaphragm or cervical cap for women, and finally sterilization by a vasectomy or tubal ligation, tying a woman’s tubes. Natural methods would include abstinence, fertility awareness method (FAM), lactational amenorrhea method (LAM) and withdrawal (Birth Control Options). IUD’s are Tshaped intrauterine devices that are placed into the uterus of women and block the fallopian tubes, with a slow release of hormones for the duration of its implantation. Emergency contraceptives is something that a woman can get after she has had unprotected intercourse without any form of birth control. There are four types of EC to choose from and they all work up to 5 days (or 120 hours) after unprotected sex (Power To Decide). Emergency contraception will reduce a woman’s chances of an unintended pregnancy after unprotected sex. While this is a brief description of all the different forms of birth control, the paper will now focus on the controversies surrounding pharmacist’s refusing to fill hormonal birth control prescriptions.

Next, the argument discussed in the article Pharmacists Should Not Be Allowed to Refuse to Fill Birth Control Prescriptions. In this article, Thomasson argues that it is unethical for pharmacists to impose their beliefs and judgments on others, and certainly not their right to decide whether a woman should use birth control (Thomasson). Women could be using birth control pills for many different reasons. A woman could have been raped and wants to prevent a pregnancy from the traumatizing event. Another reason that women could be on birth control is because if they were to become pregnant, whether it be her first pregnancy or her third, her health would be in danger and even the life of the baby could be a risk. The decision to use birth control is already a difficult enough, without the opinions of a stranger. In the end, a pharmacies job is to provide and fill medications that are prescribed by doctors to their patients. If a woman goes to get her prescription filled at her pharmacy, but the pharmacist refuses to fill it because of their own personal beliefs surrounding birth control, the women might not have another pharmacy to get her birth control. If the woman doesn’t have transportation, then how is she supposed to get to another pharmacy, so that she can get her prescription filled. In the article, Thomasson states that Several states-California, New Jersey, Illinois and Washington- already have passed laws requiring a pharmacy to fill all prescriptions or help women get them elsewhere (Thomasson). It is not up to the pharmacist to deny the right of any medication to their patients, and it seems to be becoming an issue in that states must make laws to require a pharmacy to do their job. Thomasson concludes that pharmacists should fill all prescriptions that come their way without passing judgement on patients (Thomasson). Being a pharmacist requires filling all the prescriptions that come into the pharmacy, something that all pharmacists know before agreeing to become a pharmacist.

In contrast, the argument discussed in the article Pharmacists Should Be Allowed to Refuse to Fill Birth Control Prescriptions. In the article, Bandow argues the other side to the controversy in that a pharmacist should be allowed to refuse to fill a prescription based on their moral beliefs. A pharmacist should have the right to refuse to dispense a medication to a patient in which they have a prescription from a doctor (Bandow). Pharmacists are not just refusing to fill birth control prescriptions but also the morning after pill, which would be a form of emergency contraception. In the article, there is a picture of a pharmacist, named Rich Quayle, who is standing in front of his Walgreens Store where he refuses to dispense the morning after pill because of his religious beliefs (Bandow). Just because this one pharmacist refuses to fill birth control prescriptions or the morning after pill, does not mean that all pharmacist’s will refuse to fill them because of their personal beliefs. Bandow concludes that laws that inhibit a pharmacist’s right to execute his belief by refusing to fill a prescription are wrong (Bandow). A couple states have made laws that require pharmacies to fill the prescriptions that their patients bring in from their doctors. Bandow believes that a pharmacist should be allowed to refuse to fill birth control prescriptions because of their own personal belief when they personally disagree with women taking birth control.

Since both sides of the argument discuss the religious beliefs of pharmacist being the main reason they refuse to fill a women’s birth control, a little more should be said about why religions either prohibit or permit the use of birth control. The reasons why birth control in prohibited is different for every religion. The use of birth control is prohibited by some religions for reasons such as that men are not permitted to waste their seed or that it is a violation of the design built into the human race by God (Ritter & Graham). Though there is no pill that a man takes that will waste their seed, the hormonal birth controls that women take will waste their seed. It wastes men’s seed because it prevents the women from becoming pregnant after sexual intercourse. While many religions prohibit birth control methods, some religions do permit the use of birth control but only certain forms of it. Some religions permit hormonal birth control use but prohibit the use of any form of birth control methods that would block or destroy sperm. Another reason that birth control may be allowed in some religions is that it is used into between the birth of a women’s children. If the women was to become pregnant again right after giving birth would pose a risk to her or the babies health. Another reasons would inlcude when a man cannot financially support another child at that time. Religions are all different and have their own reasons as to why they permit or prohibit the use of birth control.

In the end, the controversies surrounding whether a pharmacist should or should not be allowed to refuse to fill birth control prescriptions is still a major debate. On one hand, pharmacists should not be allowed to refuse the prescription because it’s not ethical for them to impose their own personal beliefs onto others. They don’t know the reasons behind why a woman is taking birth control, so adding their opinion to the situation could make it more complicated than the decisions already is. Like any profession a person is going into, a pharmacist is aware of the duties that he or she will have to perform. On the other hand, pharmacists should be allowed to refuse to fill the prescription because of their personal beliefs. Different religions either permit or prohibit the use of certain forms of birth control. Personal beliefs are one of the main reasons why pharmacists decide not dispense birth control prescriptions. One of the main controversies surrounding birth control is the whether pharmacists should or should not be allowed to refuse to fill birth control prescriptions. There is support for both sides of the argument, but a main factor is the pharmacists own personal belief.


Doug Bandow, Freedom to Choose: What’s Good for the Goose Is Good for the Gander, Human Events, June 2, 2005, Copyright ?© 2005 Human Events Inc. Reproduced by permission.

Birth Control Options. Birth Control Options | Options for Sexual Health,

Find Your Method. Power to Decide,

Knowledge Panels&utm_source=Google Search&utm_medium=Organic Search. Ritter, Lois A., and Donald H. Graham. Multicultural health. Jones & Bartlett Learning, 2017.

Dan K. Thomasson, Birth-Control Denial the Height of Arrogance, Seattle Post Intelligencer, July 14,2008. Reproduced by permission of the author.

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Controversy Surrounding Birth Control. (2019, Jul 08). Retrieved February 6, 2023 , from

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