Wal-Mart Once Again Imposes Moral Standards on Customers
by Rose Windsor
The Wal-Mart Company once again has taken a swipe at our liberties by banning the dispensing of the PREVEN kit in all Wal-Mart pharmacies. Wal-Mart, with 2,300 stores across the country, is the largest retailer and the fifth largest pharmacy chain. Many Wal-Mart stores are located in rural areas, where Wal-Mart may be the sole pharmacy in the region. Women seeking PREVEN in these areas would thus be denied access to the drug.
PREVEN is frequently called "the morning after pill". The PREVEN kit consists of four oral contraceptive tablets and a pregnancy kit. PREVEN has been found to be 75% effective in preventing pregnancy, if ingested within 72 hours after intercourse. Preventing is the operative word here; it does not cause abortion. It has no effect on already pregnant women. PREVEN is not an over the counter medication, and is only available through a physician's prescription.
Many reasons exist for dispensing PREVEN, other than irresponsible sexual behavior. Condom failure, non-consensual sex, and miscalculation of the rhythm method are all examples of why a patient would seek PREVEN. Pregnancy can pose serious health risks to some women who have medical conditions. The prescription may only be obtained from a physician who is best qualified to evaluate the patients needs.
Phone calls to the Wal-Mart offices in Arkansas, have resulted in nothing less than stonewalling. I have been transferred to a phone that is never answered, or connected to an answering machine where no one responds to my plea for a fair and accurate statement explaining their position on this issue. I strongly believe Wal-Mart is deliberately dodging my questions, in the hopes that no one will probe into the moral judgement of their consumers.
A phone call to my local Wal-Mart pharmacy did provide the truth. When asked if Wal-Mart stocks the PREVEN kits, one woman explained, "It's not our stores' choice. No Wal-Marts do. It is company policy."
Why does a company such as Wal-Mart believe they are better qualified to decide which drugs would be beneficial to a patient? Do they presume to know more than the woman's own doctor does? This is yet another example of Wal-Mart's overzealous attempts to thrust their own moral reasoning on their unsuspecting customers. This illustrates a fundamental lack of faith in the free market system to allow customers to decide what is best for themselves.
As previously reported by R.O.C., Wal-Mart has engaged in such corporate censorship as disallowing records with Parental Warning labels to reside on their shelves, forcing record companies to edit out material that Wal-Mart executives deem inappropriate for sale, regardless of the fact that many of the consumers take no offense to the material.
As one of the largest retail music sources, these strong arm tactics have imposed self-censorship on artists. Musicians are now kowtowing to the moral attitudes inflicted by Wal-Mart. This bullying tactic is highly effective for it affects an artist's survival via cash flow.
Wal-mart paints a shiny veneer of apple-pie values. In reality, most American Wal-Mart workers earn little above minimum wage and part time workers are forced to wait two years before receiving a benefits package. Benefits are so costly to the employee that many choose to forego it rather than bear the expense. Anyone tried raising a family of four on a single Wal-Mart wage?
Wal-mart has the right to run its business as it sees fit. We have the right as informed consumers to protest the obvious moral impositions the Wal-Mart company instigates. If enough people protest Wal-Mart's pre-occupation with corporate censorship, perhaps they will re-think their policies. If not, all the better to give our business to a company that supports our constitutionally guaranteed rights.
At this point, you may be shaking your head in disbelief. Shake it harder; shake off that apathy and do something about it! Contact Wal-Mart at the below addresses and let them know how you feel about their right-wing policies. Inform them you will not shop in their stores until they recognize you don't need another baby-sitter dictating what you can and can not buy. Sign our petition below to Boycott Wal-Mart.
President - Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
P.O. Box 116
Bentonville, AR 72712-9956