Video: Wal-mart Selling The Pill
updated 2/16/2006 2:59:24 PM ET 2006-02-16T19:59:24

Should the government really be telling businesses what products they can stock on their shelves?  That‘s debatable, but it is happening. 

Wal-Mart was ordered this week by the Massachusetts Board of Pharmacy to carry the morning after pill.  It‘s an emergency contraceptive and a commercial one.  The directive came after three women, backed by abortion rights groups, sued Wal-Mart to carry the pill in its Massachusetts stores. 

Dr. Rebecca Guy is one of those women.  Dr. Guy, along with her attorney Mr. Sam Perkins, joined Tucker Carlson to discuss the case.

CARLSON:  Doctor, why should government be telling businesses what they can and cannot sell?  Or why should anyone be forcing businesses to sell things they don‘t want to sell?

REBECCA GUY, FILED LAWSUIT ON MORNING AFTER PILL:   Tucker, the emergency contraception pill is not like stocking Colgate versus Crest tooth paste.  A pharmacy is a medical—it‘s part of the healthcare system.  It‘s dispensing medications that are crucial to patient care.  It‘s—the prescription that a patient goes to a pharmacy with is part of a physician-patient contract.  And a patient, when he goes to the medication, expects to be able to get that medication.  It‘s really part of the healthcare system.  So I think... 

CARLSON:  Hold on.  You say it‘s part of the physician-patient contract.  You don‘t own Wal-Mart.  I mean, you‘re not—right.  You don‘t have a business relationship with Wal-Mart, I assume.  Wal-Mart is owned by its stock holders.  And so why shouldn‘t they get to decide what Wal-Mart sells?  I guess I‘m missing this. 

GUY:  You‘re absolutely right.  What they sell on their shelves other than the pharmacy.  But the pharmacy itself is critical to the care of patients.  Whether they‘re stocking medicines to treat diabetes or hypertension, when a woman walks in to a pharmacy, she is getting a medication that she may need. 

And as you may know, emergency contraception is—the sooner you take it the more effective it is.  And time is of the essence.  And so if a woman goes to a pharmacy and is refused medication, it may not be as effective, if she has to go pharmacy shopping. 

CARLSON:  I actually am absolutely certain that‘s right.  But she can go somewhere else and buy it.  Or she can‘t.  But the fact is that it‘s not up to her what Wal-Mart wells.

I ant to get you, Mr. Perkins, in on this.  How is it that you get to choose what a store sells?  You could make the same argument about grocery stores.  I need to eat to live, right?  But I‘m not allowed to tell a grocery store what has to sell, and neither is government—yet. 

SAM PERKINS, ATTORNEY FOR DR. REBECCA GUY:  Well, I think as Rebecca said, Tucker, this is a little different.  If Bloomingdale‘s decided that it didn‘t like the comments you made on your show so all of a sudden it stopped stocking bow ties.  That would be one thing that they have the right to do. 

But we‘re talking about something that is an integral part of the healthcare system.

CARLSON:  As defined by whom?

PERKINS:  And also, from the doctor‘s point of view, for someone to say, when a doctor has prescribed emergency contraception to a woman who may be at risk of having a baby that is unintended, that‘s the equivalent, if you won‘t give her that prescription at the time she needs it on an emergency basis or turning someone away from an emergency room.  Pharmacies are not Bloomingdale‘s. 

CARLSON:  With all due respect, what you‘re saying is rhetoric.  I mean, the emergency contraception pill is not a pill that saves a woman‘s life.  And moreover, here‘s I think the crux of it.  It‘s controversial.  Some people believe this pill is immoral.  This is tantamount to forcing people to perform abortions.  Some people think abortion is fine, and some don‘t.

GUY:  I‘d like to address that issue, because emergency contraception is just that.  It‘s contraception that works not through an abortion fashion.  It‘s often confused with RU-486, which is an abortion pill.  But emergency contraception is the same medication that is in most common contraception and works, as you may know, the same way that breast feeding and the IUD and other things work. 

CARLSON:  You know what?  I agree with you.  I‘m actually on your side of this.  I don‘t have a problem with it.  But some people do.  And so you‘re missing my point.  You and I may think it‘s fine.  There‘s nothing wrong with it at all.  But the fact is some people think it‘s immoral.  And they have a right to believe it‘s immoral.  And they have a right not to have their morals trampled upon by you simply because you disagree. 

In other words, you‘re forcing people to commit an act they believe is immoral.  And I don‘t know why you‘re doing that.

PERKINS:  Well, Tucker, as a matter of fact, I don‘t think that either Dr. Guy or I is forcing anyone to do anything. 

CARLSON:  Of course you are.  You‘re using the power of the state of Massachusetts to make people sell something they don‘t want to sell. 

PERKINS:  ... in Massachusetts.  Actually, no.  Who‘s making themselves something they don‘t want to sell is the border registration and pharmacy, backed by the commonwealth of Massachusetts.  No this is a regulated industry. 

CARLSON:  That‘s actually not true, Mr. Perkins or you wouldn‘t be involved in this lawsuit, which is forcing  -- the state is, at this point, not enforcing it.  You‘re trying to force the state to enforce it.  And I‘m not saying...

GUY:  That‘s not true, Tucker.  The Board of Pharmacy unanimously voted because under Massachusetts state law the pharmacies are required to stock medications that are commonly prescribed and needed by the community. 

CARLSON:  I‘m aware of that.

GUY:  And the Board of Pharmacy decided that this meets both of those requirements, and so it‘s now requiring Wal-Mart—not us but the Board of Pharmacy or the state of Massachusetts—to cover this medication. 

CARLSON:  You don‘t see—I‘m not going to use the word “fascism,” but you didn‘t see this as an authoritarian to force people to do something they think is immoral?

PERKINS:  If you‘re talking about rhetoric, now you‘re getting a little bit of rhetoric yourself.

It‘s true.  The fact of the matter is that they‘re regulated industries of every type.  Hospital emergency rooms have to treat people.  There‘s no way in the world that a corporation that‘s licensed by the state of Massachusetts to provide pharmacy services has the right to pick and choose what kinds of drugs, in violation of state regulations, it can do. 

The gay person who goes in, who needs some sort of medication to help with HIV, it‘s not up to the pharmacy to tell them “We‘re not going to prescribe, we‘re not going to stock this kind of medication.” 

CARLSON:  OK.  That is so far off the topic that I can‘t believe that‘s the final word.  But sadly, we‘re out of time.

PERKINS:  Actually, it‘s right what we‘re talking about.

CARLSON:  It‘s going to have to be the end.  It‘s not going to continue with that completely distracting point. 

PERKINS:  Well, it‘s not a distracting point at all.

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