Walgreens is at the center of a social media controversy that has many calling for boycotts after multiple customers shared their experiences trying to purchase birth control from the pharmacy chain.
Social media users have been sharing reports that employees at Walgreens stores in the U.S. denied them the ability to purchase items like birth control medications or condoms, citing religious beliefs.
Twitter user Nate Pentz wrote earlier this month that he and his partner, Jess, were denied condoms at a store in Hayward, Wisconsin.
According to Pentz, the employee said he couldn't sell the couple condoms "because of my faith."
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Pentz also shared an image of the couple's complaint to the company.
Two days earlier, TikTok user Abigail Martin reported she was denied her birth control prescription by one employee who told her she would need to contact her provider in order to get it. When her provider told her she had four refills left, she said she returned and was told by another employee that the store had been having issues with the woman who helped Martin.
As other users reported similar problems, calls for a boycott of the company have grown, with many using the #BoycottWalgreens on Twitter, including actress Michaela Watkins.
"Well I’m joining this boycott. Not acceptable. Women are not cattle. You don’t own us. #BoycottWalgreens," she wrote.
In a statement to NBC Chicago, Walgreens acknowledged that its "policies are designed to ensure we meet the needs of our patients and customers while respecting the religious and moral beliefs of our team members."
"The instances are rare, however when a team member has a moral or religious objection to completing a transaction, they are required to refer the customer to another employee or manager on duty who will complete the transaction," the statement from the company read. "With regard to birth control medications, our focus is meeting the needs of our patients and making sure they have access to the medications they need, in compliance with applicable pharmacy laws and regulations. Trigger laws in various states require additional steps for dispensing certain prescriptions. In these states, our pharmacists work closely with prescribers to fill lawful, clinically appropriate prescriptions. We provide ongoing training and information to help our pharmacists understand the latest requirements in their area, with the expectation that they are empowered to fill prescriptions in accordance with applicable laws and regulations."
Cases of service refusals on religious grounds have made headlines before, including one instance in 2018, which made its way to the Supreme Court.
In that case, the court ruled in favor of a Colorado baker who wouldn't make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple out of religious objection.