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Wednesday, February 15, 2006

follow-up: another reason to celebrate

A while ago we discussed whether Wal-Mart should be required by law to stock and sell emergency contraception (with some readers getting deep about the stigma attached to medicine; the challenge that huge corporations pose to free/competitive market theory; and, as reader "thelonius" suggested, the opportunity to further "align women's issues with the greater global-economic justice movement." Word.).

Members of the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Pharmacy may not have been thinking on such a grand scale when they voted on the case, but the outcome is definitely exciting. As a as a result of the Board's unanimous decision, the Beast of Bentonville (as it's known to some) announced today that it will start carrying EC in the Bay State. Score one for the gender/economic justice team! But wait--it gets better: (more in expanded post)
The retailer said it is also giving serious thought to carrying the drug at all of its 3,700 pharmacies nationwide. The only other state where Wal-Mart sells the so-called morning after pill is Illinois, where a state law requires it. Elsewhere, Wal-Mart has refused to stock the drug for undisclosed "business reasons."

Melissa Kogut, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts, said she is hopeful Wal-Mart will start carrying the morning-after pill nationwide. "What's happening here in Massachusetts is really a turning point," she said.
For me, the exciting part isn't so much that Wal-Mart was quick to comply. For all I know, they could be calculating the EC issue on a purely economic basis, reluctant to irritate their conservative, 'family-values'-interested consumer base by selling it, but happy (or at least not distraught) dispensing it under government mandate since the state shoulders the blame while stores enjoy higher revenues. But it is exciting to see such a government body affirming so strongly the importance of emergency contraception in communities. Of course, this is also the state that legalized same-sex marriage, so I'll save my Tiger Woods fist pump for when some conservative states come around, too.

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