July 20, 2022

Biden HHS Threatens Legal Action Against Pharmacies that Don't Fill Abortion Pill Prescriptions

The Biden administration has informed all pharmacies receiving federal assistance that they must fill abortion pill prescriptions. A pharmacy that refuses could be charged with a violation of federal civil rights laws.

The US Department of Health and Human Services's Office for Civil Rights released guidelines for pharmacies that reference Affordable Care Act law. The law states that refusal to dispense abortion pills constitutes discrimination based on pregnancy. The HHS guidelines also state that pharmacies can refuse to fill prescriptions for medications that can have the side effect of miscarriage.

The guidelines also mention the Church Amendments, which protect health care personnel from discrimination by their employers if they refuse to participate in abortions. “This guidance does not address how the Church Amendments would apply in a given case,” the guidelines state. “OCR will evaluate and apply the Church Amendments on a case-by-case basis.”

The Biden administration has a poor track record when it comes to enforcing the Church Amendments. The Department of Justice dropped a case in 2021 in which the Trump administration's HHS found the University of Vermont Medical Center had forced a pro-life nurse to participate in an abortion. Given the HHS's stance to apply the Church Amendments on a case-by-case basis, it is very possible that they won't be enforced.