A Texas man has enlisted the ACLU to help him sue CVS for gender discrimination after a pharmacist refused to sell him emergency contraception.
Jason Melbourne had already visited four pharmacies in search of Plan B for his wife when he was referred to a CVS in Mesquite, Texas, some 15 miles away from his home. They had one box left:
But when he finally got there, the overnight pharmacist, Minni Matthew, told Melbourne she wasn’t going to sell it to him.
In order for him to buy the meds, the pharmacist said, she’d need to talk to and see the ID of his wife, who was at home with their two young children. He asked why, and she pointed to the fine print on the medication’s box, which says it can only be sold to someone age 17 or older. Melbourne pointed out that he was well over 17.
“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.
The situation got worse from there. Melbourne put his wife on the phone and even Googled the medication to show the pharmacist there was no law against selling it to a man. But “she didn’t want to see it,” he said.
That’s when a male pharmacy technician informed Melbourne that they didn’t want to sell emergency contraception to men because they might be giving it to “rape victims.”
Jezebel notes that Melbourne’s ordeal happened around the same time that a Houston CVS store refused to sell another man Plan B. CVS apologized for that last month, calling it an “isolated incident.” It wasn’t.
In fact, in 2010 ACLU received reports that Walgreens stores in Texas, Mississippi and Oklahoma were refusing to sell emergency contraception to men. Walgreens relented when the ACLU confronted them publicly.
In an email about the Houston incident, CVS spokesman Mike DeAngelis insisted they’d briefed all their stores on official company policy, which is “to follow FDA regulations for the sale of emergency contraception, which allows this product to be sold without a prescription to customers who are at least 17 years old, regardless of gender.”
But they obviously need to do a better job educating their stores, because the manager of the Mesquite CVS insisted they’re not supposed to sell Plan B to men because they can’t verify that the woman who takes it will be over 17.
Lisa Graybill, the legal director of the Texas ACLU, says refusing to sell Plan B to men based on this baseless “sensational story” is “misguided.” “I’m not aware of a single case of a man reportedly buying it to push on his underage pedophile victim,” she says.
“I’m outraged,” Melbourne says of the situation. “I chased this thing all over town, then I get accused of using this for rape, even after they’ve talked to my wife on the phone. It makes me feel like a piece of crap.”