Anna Merlan at the Dallas Observer brings us this ridiculous tale of ridiculous ridonkbaggery: a North Texas man trying to buy emergency contraception for his wife was denied the pill by the pharmacist because, uh, he is a legal person over 17 who is legally able to buy the pill but had a penis so not? Here’s the gist: Jason Melbourne tried to buy e.c. at a Mesquite pharmacy, for his wife who couldn’t leave because she was–wait for it–home with the kids! The pharmacist said she couldn’t sell it to him because it was only available to people over 17. Which Melbourne clearly was.
“I’ve bought this plenty of times in my life, and it’s never been a problem,” he said. “Are you telling me every other place I’ve bought it from has been wrong?”
Didn’t matter, Matthew said, since the medicine obviously wasn’t for him.
“Why don’t you show me the law that says you can’t sell this to a man?” Melbourne replied.
Things devolved from there. Melbourne Googled emergency contraception on his phone and confirmed that there was no law against selling the product to a man. He tried to show his phone to the pharmacist, he says, “but she didn’t want to see it.”
I totally get you, pharmacist! I am also always so confused by people who are dudes because I am like wait, is that a dude, or is that person over 17? HE CAN’T BE BOTH!
A pharmacy technician, who gave his name only as “Robert,” jumped in. He let Melbourne know that they don’t sell emergency contraception to men because they might be giving it to “rape victims.”
By then, Melbourne says, he was starting to “freak out.”
“I’m standing in line trying to get something that’s already a little controversial, a little embarrassing,” he says. “It’s for my wife. There are three customers behind me when the guy says that, so it looks like I’m a piece of shit now.”
Melbourne was finally able to buy the pill at another pharmacy, and he’s filed a complaint with the ACLU. ACLU director Lisa Graybill tells the Dallas Observer that “she ‘won’t contest’ that the store’s policy, however logically shaky, may come from “a place of genuine concern” about underage girls. But ultimately, she says, ‘I think there’s just a gap in communication from corporate to the people on the line.'”
The Dallas Observer also talked to the pharmacist in question:
Though she wasn’t specifically aware of the incident with Melbourne, she confirmed to us that as she understood it, it’s “store policy” not to sell EC to men, “because we have to prove that whoever we sell it to is not any minor person.”
We pointed out that Melbourne was over 17. “Well, that’s the issue,” she replied. “We don’t know who he’s going to give it to.” She said she had also heard that “other stores” won’t sell EC to men on the grounds they may give it to women they’ve just raped.
I think we can all appreciate that nobody wants pedophile rapists shoving bags of emergency contraception down their victims’ throats, in part because it is egregious to think that anyone besides the owner of a uterus has any right to decide what will be done or not done with said uterus. Which is ridiculous, because in this case the pharmacist is basically saying: stranger man, I don’t know you or your situation but I do know that I think you are a child rapist and therefore I am making a decision about your victim’s reproductive health! People, nobody gets to make decisions about anyone else’s reproductive health! No matter if you are a rapist or a pharmacist! Nobody!
I think we can also all appreciate that it is not a pharmacist’s job to decide when or whether child rape is happening. I think what we can all appreciate is that it is, in fact, a pharmacist’s job to dispense medication according to the legal guidelines that pertain thereto, and that this is precisely not what happened in this case. What happened here is that busybody pharmacists–who to be honest with you, I don’t believe for a second really thought Melbourne was a child rapist, because you know what I wouldn’t do with a child rapist? Bicker with him about store policy over a pharmacy counter, because I would be too busy taking down his license plates and calling the fucking PO-LICE–felt they knew better than this man and his family based on literally no evidence at all that anything untoward was happening, except one guy trying to buy legal, non-prescription medication for his wife. Were the pharmacists nosy, anti-choice nuts who relished the opportunity to deny someone emergency contraception? Were they bored and hoping to be part of their own little episode of Law And Order: SVU? I don’t know. I do know what it sounds like they were not doing: their fucking jobs.
All this, particularly in light of Obama’s Plan B failure, is illustrative of the fact that what we need is better access to emergency contraception so that ill-informed, possibly willfully ignorant, pharmacists can’t stand between people and their reproductive needs for just any old reason at all. A man shouldn’t have to go to several pharmacies to get safe, legal medication for his wife. And if medical professionals seem to be convinced that all men buying e.c. are child rapists, then the next step is not to hide e.c. from men, but to make e.c. directly available to the people who need it most and who are the most capable of deciding for themselves what they need: teens and women of child-bearing age.