Feds: Pharmacies can’t turn people away with prescriptions for abortive drugs – WISH-TV | Indianapolis News | Indiana Weather forecast

(CNN) – Clarifying tips announced Wednesday, the Biden administration says federal law does not allow pharmacies to turn away people who have a prescription for a drug that could potentially end a pregnancy.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Civil Rights Office sent guidance to more than 60,000 pharmacies nationwide reminding that under federal civil rights law, pregnancy-related discrimination is a form of sex discrimination and that it is illegal.

“We are committed to ensuring that everyone can access health care, without discrimination,” HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement. Press release Wednesday. “This includes access to prescription drugs for reproductive health and other types of care.”

Federal law applies to any pharmacy that receives federal financial assistance, including through Medicare and Medicaid payments.

A senior HHS official said Wednesday that the Civil Rights Office has received numerous questions and possible complaints following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to end the constitutional right to abortion. The official could not quantify the number of calls or emails received.

The guide gives several examples to define what this type of discrimination might look like, but does not specifically address medical abortion. Examples included a person who had a prescription for an emergency contraceptive to prevent her from getting pregnant after being sexually assaulted, as well as a pharmacy selling other contraceptives like condoms but refusing to fill a prescription for contraception emergency. It may be discrimination based on sex.

Another potential case could be if a pharmacy refuses to stock or fill a prescription for methotrexate, a drug that reduces pain and swelling in people with rheumatoid arthritis but could also terminate a pregnancy. This may be discriminatory on the basis of disability.

Another example is a person with a bleeding disorder who is scheduled for a surgical abortion and is prescribed hemoglobin to reduce the risk of bleeding during the procedure. If the pharmacy finds out why the person is using the drug and refuses to fill the prescription, they may be discriminating on the basis of gender.

Several professional associations told CNN they know women have been denied drugs at pharmacies that could terminate a pregnancy, even if the prescription was for a condition unrelated to pregnancy like lupus. , rheumatoid arthritis and certain skin conditions. conditions.

A spokesperson for Walgreens said Wednesday it would review the guidelines.

“Our pharmacy staff will continue to work closely with prescribers as needed, to ensure that all prescription drugs are dispensed in accordance with applicable pharmacy laws and regulations,” said Fraser Engerman, senior director of relationships. outside the company, in an e-mail. “We provide ongoing education and information to help our pharmacists understand the latest requirements in their field, and with these supports, they are expected to be empowered to fill legal and clinically appropriate prescriptions.”

HHS has encouraged people who feel discriminated against to call or file a complaint on the the agency’s website. This includes discrimination based on current pregnancy, past pregnancy, potential or intended pregnancy, and medical conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth.

The United States has the highest maternal mortality rate among developed countries, according to the HHS, and most maternal deaths in the United States are preventable.

Over the past two decades, maternal mortality rates have increased, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Since the Supreme Court decision of June 24, more than a dozen states are in legal battles over the abortion ban and other laws that strictly limit the procedure.

The Biden administration has also taken several abortion measures following this decision.

On Friday, President Biden signed an executive order to protect access to medical abortion, patient privacy and emergency contraception, and to launch public education efforts.

Biden asked Becerra to submit a report on the steps his department is taking to ensure access to reproductive health care. HHS will take steps to expand access to emergency contraception and long-acting reversible contraception such as intrauterine devices.

Attorney General Merrick Garland also released a statement saying states cannot ban mifepristone, a drug used to end early pregnancy that has FDA approval.

On Mondaythe Biden administration has said that federal law overrides state abortion bans when emergency care is needed and that the federal government can penalize institutions or providers who do not provide the abortions needed to treat emergencies medical.

The administration said examples of emergency medical conditions include, but are not limited to, ectopic pregnancy — when the fertilized egg develops outside of a woman’s uterus — and complications miscarriages. Stabilization treatment could include abortion.

On Tuesdaythe US Department of Justice announced a task force to identify ways to protect reproductive rights.

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