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Commentary on Groundbreaking MN Courts of Appeals Ruling On Emergency Contraception and Sex Discrimination

Last week, the Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled that a pharmacist refusing to provide emergency contraception committed illegal sex discrimination. This groundbreaking ruling is the first of its kind in the United States.

MNCASA applauds the Minnesota Court of Appeals Decision. We believe that reproductive justice is a fundamental human right: the right to bodily autonomy, the right to safe and affordable abortion care, and the right to have or not have children. Access to emergency contraception is essential for the health, safety, and healing of sexual violence victims/survivors.

Many people with uteruses experience sexual violence and need to access emergency contraception. Victims/survivors—and all pregnant people—should be able to access emergency contraception regardless of the personal beliefs of the individual filling their prescription.

Refusing to fill a medical prescription for emergency contraception endangers victims/survivors and creates unnecessary barriers to time-sensitive medications. Victims/survivors should not be forced to continue a pregnancy that resulted from sexual violence. They also should not experience barriers when accessing emergency contraception.

In many cases, a victim/survivor has a narrow window in which they can access and use emergency contraception. Barriers to emergency contraception may cause a victim/survivor to miss the efficacy window. They may also force victims/survivors to attempt self-managed abortions, which can lead to health complications or even death. Rather than create more barriers, we should prioritize the health of victims/survivors.

Refusing to fill a prescription due to personal beliefs is illegal discrimination. The use of emergency contraception is a complex personal healthcare decision. Every person with a uterus has the right to decide what happens to their own body, regardless of others’ personal beliefs.

Controlling an individual’s reproduction by refusing to fill a medical prescription is an act of violence. In a world free from violence, all people would have control over their own bodies, free from coercion or fear. MNCASA stands in opposition to all forms of violence and we will continue to fight for the bodily autonomy of victims/survivors.

View the press release on the ruling by Gender Justice.