Think you can get EC over the counter? Maybe not.
Good news: Emergency contraception (EC) is available over-the-counter (OTC) for women age 17 and older! This means that women and men age 17 and up who provide valid identification can get EC at pharmacies without a prescription.
Bad news: Even though it is available without a prescription for some people, EC is still kept behind the pharmacy counter and some pharmacists may refuse to provide EC to women even when they have EC in stock. Denying women access to birth control based on personal beliefs is bad for consumers and bad for women’s health! Women deserve timely access to legal pharmaceuticals.
Have you or someone you know been the victim of a pharmacy refusal? Check out the updated version of NWLC’s guide to pharmacy refusals, Don’t Take "No" for an Answer: A Guide to Pharmacy Refusal Laws, Policies and Practices, to know your rights as a consumer and help you advocate for better policies in your state and at your local pharmacy!
And share your story with NWLC. We can advise you about applicable laws and regulations in your state, strategize the best way to deal with what happened to you and ensure that other women won’t face the same problem. In one case, NWLC worked with a woman who was refused EC to file a complaint with the state pharmacy board. The pharmacy board investigated her complaint and disciplined and fined the refusing pharmacist.
"I live in one of the most liberal areas of Seattle - I never thought that getting EC over-the-counter in my neighborhood would be a problem. When the pharmacist told me he wouldn't give me EC because he thought it was wrong, I was stunned. and angry. I told my story on NWLC's website and they contacted me right away. They worked on my behalf to tell my story to people at Rite-Aid’s national headquarters, people who made sure that the pharmacist who refused to serve me was disciplined and that all pharmacy staff were trained about EC so that it doesn’t happen at that pharmacy again."