Open Letter to Target
Wrote this a while back, kept forgetting to post it. Given their snotty responses
to others, I doubt we'll get anything different, but I'll post whatever responses we might get.
Dear Target Corporation,
I am disappointed and appalled that a Target pharmacist in Fenton, MO, refused to fill a woman's prescription for emergency contraception on September 30, and that the Target corporation supports this pharmacist's practice of refusing health care for women. Birth control is basic health care, and restricting access to prescriptions is nothing short of discrimination.
I have often shopped at Target, and until today, I had a wedding registry at target.com. I have now removed all items from our registry and asked people not to shop for us at Target, letting our wedding guests know why we have made this move, and will no longer be shopping at Target until you support your consumers' in-store access to all medications their physicians deem necessary, without delay and without personal judgement.
I understand that your company has claimed to be "respecting employee diversity" by supporting pharmacists' right to refuse to fill any medication that conflicts with their religious beliefs, but this strikes me as less than sincere. Why are you supporting only this Christian fundmentalist belief, rather than all the sincerely held beliefs of your staff? If you were sincere in this policy, the true diversity of deeply held religious beliefs in this country would require you to allow Catholic pharmacists to refuse to provide birth control to anyone. Your Hindu cashiers would have an equal right not to sell leather or beef products, while your Jewish and Muslim cashiers might refuse to sell pork products. Non-Christians would be well within their limits to refuse to sell copies of the Bible if it conflicted with their deeply held religious beliefs. Presumably, if you were sincere in your concern for all your employees' civil rights, you would allow all those pharmacists and cashiers who believe, because of their religion, that non-marital sex is sinful to check customers for wedding rings before ringing up birth control or contraceptives -- and that they would be entitled to refuse to sell diapers or baby food to unmarried men or women.
Your company has stated that you believe it is appropriate to allow your employees to impose their religious beliefs on your customers in this fashion, but this policy extends only to the religious fundamentalists among your pharmacists who believe that Plan B, which prevents contraception and is often used for victims of rape, is a type of abortion. Far from being supportive of civil rights, as you claim, this policy makes it clear that you lack respect for your customers, particularly women, and perhaps lack respect for your employees who are religious but who do not have a powerful fundamentalist lobby standing behind them. Your sincerity in claiming this is a civil rights issue is laughable unless you extend exactly the same protections to all your employees. It is clear that this policy, couched in the rhetoric of civil rights, is actually a capitulation to powerful anti-abortion and anti-woman groups. That a hypothetical rape victim, already traumatised enough, could be told by her Target pharmacist that he refuses to fill her prescription in-store, and that she must instead go elsewhere, is cruel and unusual toward a woman who has already suffered enough. And since the vast majority of other national store chains do not share your policy, I will from here on in be shopping elsewhere.
Unless and until we can be assured that your customers will be treated with respect and, in particular, that your customers can access medications prescribed by their physicians regardless of the personal judgment of their pharmacists, we have cancelled our registry at Target and will let our wedding guests know why, and ask that they purchase their gifts elsewhere. We will also continue to encourage friends, family, and the readers of our weblogs to take their business to other stores as well.