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Capitol Pill is a feature which tracks contraception access in D.C. pharmacies.
Rite Aid, 1306 U St. NW (and various). (202) 328-8761.
With over 4,900 drugstores in 31 states and the District of Columbia, Rite Aid’s chain of pharmacies stands to dispense a lot of birth control. It’s also prepared for contraception hang-ups. Rite Aid spokesperson Cheryl Slavinsky says that the chain has policies in place to comply with all state and federal regulations for dispensing medication—-and deal with those employees who hold moral or religious beliefs against providing contraception.
“Rite Aid pharmacists or any associates are prohibited from imposing their moral or religious beliefs on the customer, and it is his/her responsibility to fulfill their professional duty to the customer,” Slavinsky says. But if an associate chooses not to personally fill a birth control prescription——or any other medication, for that matter—-they have options.
If a Rite Aid associate doesn’t want to provide an over-the-counter item to a customer—-like Emergency Contraception or condoms—-they’re required to find another associate who is willing to sell the item. But since some Rite Aids only employ one pharmacist, honoring an employee’s objection to filling doctor-prescribed medication is a little trickier. In that case, the pharmacist is required to contact the closest Rite Aid to dispense the medication. In either case, the associate must offer to order the item or pick it up at another Rite Aid location and deliver it back to the customer’s preferred Rite Aid location. In the case that no other local Rite Aid pharmacist will dispense it—-a last-resort scenario that Slavinsky calls “unlikely”—-the employee is required to find the nearest competitor that will fill the customer’s need, and to follow through until that need is met.
The prescription policy is not unlike that of similar sprawling drugstore chains. But over the counter, Rite Aid’s contraception access differs from Washington’s other major chain, CVS, in one subtle way. CVS places its condoms (and other sexual helpers) behind a case and in front of its pharmacy counter. Rite Aid’s selection is more discrete—-tucked into an aisle and outside the range of a pharmacist’s stare. Customers still must alert an employee to remove the packs of condoms from the shelf—-they’re secured there with small, plastic locks—-but at least one may peruse his options privately before informing a staffer that he intends to become ribbed for her pleasure.