Citing ethical objections and the potential of some contraceptive drugs to cause abortions, some pharmacies in the United States have decided not to carry contraceptives. One such store is Kay Pharmacy in Grand Rapids, Michigan, owned by Mike Koelzer, who explained his decision not to carry contraceptives in an e-mail interview with CNA.
Koelzer explained that he stopped supplying birth control pills because, as is written on the drugs’ packaging inserts, such pills decrease the lining of the mother’s uterus. This makes the womb less hospitable for a newly fertilized egg to attach.
“It would be similar to taking a field, putting an asphalt parking lot on top of it, and then trying to grow a lawn on it,” he said.
Koelzer, a Catholic, added that he also decided not to stock contraceptives because “the Church teaches that all use of contraceptives is intrinsically wrong.”
An August story from ABC News reported that Koelzer had received many responses to his decision, about 80 percent of which were critical.
Koelzer told CNA that he typically does not respond to the critical comments, most of which came by letter or e-mail.
“If the writer has a genuine question and the letter is respectful in nature, I then respond by answering their questions,” he remarked. “But letters like these are rare.”
Non-critical responses are normally “letters of encouragement,” which Koelzer said thank him for “taking a stand.”
To the criticism that a customer has a right to any product, he responds: “just as an OB/GYN physician is not required to perform abortions, I am not required to participate in something that is morally wrong.”
“As an owner of a store, I have a right to carry or to not carry any legal product. There are some states that are trying to fight this freedom but just as many states that are trying to defend this freedom.”
CNA asked Koelzer if his decision not to carry contraceptive drugs could interfere with patients who take the drug for a medical condition.
Estimating that about ten percent of his 230 regular customers of birth control pills used them for medical conditions, he said he discontinued all sales in 2002 for business reasons.
“It just made good business sense to not have my employees quizzing customers on their intentions and reasons for using the birth control pills,” he explained.
“According to an OB/GYN friend of mine,” Koelzer further noted, “there are plenty of other prescription choices available for women besides birth control tablets that would be just as effective for their needs.”
The group Pharmacists for Life International, which promotes a pharmacist's right to refuse to fill such prescriptions and supports pro-life pharmacies, lists on its web site Koelzer’s Kay Pharmacy and five other U.S. pharmacies that have pledged not to dispense abortifacient drugs or devices or to give referrals for such products.