Planned Parenthood

Protests Target Policy

The Planned Parenthood Federation of America is protesting a Target Corp. policy that allows pharmacists in its stores to refuse to fill prescriptions for the "morning-after pill" if they have religious objections.

Target operates 1,400 stores, and 1,149 of them have pharmacies. Planned Parenthood has asked members to e-mail Target's national headquarters in protest. The retailer expressed surprise and disappointment at Planned Parenthood's reaction.

"Our policy is similar to that of many other retailers and follows the recommendations of the American Pharmacists Association, so it is unclear why Target is being singled out," a company statement said.

Target's policy requires objecting pharmacists "to take responsibility" for getting a customer's prescription filled "in a timely and respectful manner," either by another Target pharmacist or at a different pharmacy.

"Under no circumstances can the pharmacist prevent the prescription from being filled, make discourteous or judgmental remarks or discuss his or her religious beliefs," according to the company statement.

But Target's policy "brings up questions as far as pharmacists second-guessing doctors, and it does bring up questions of discrimination and delay," said Stephanie Underwood of Planned Parenthood of the Susquehanna Valley, in Pennsylvania.

Plan B, or the "morning-after pill," is generally prescribed when a woman has had unprotected sex or when the protection, such as a condom, has failed. Its use is opposed by many religious groups that object to abortion, including the Catholic Church.

Planned Parenthood's criteria for a good policy on emergency contraception includes what Underwood called "in-store solutions" to a pharmacist's refusal, so the customer never knows the refusal occurred.

-- Religion News Service

English Church Warned

Against Female Bishops

The Roman Catholic bishops of England and Wales have warned the Church of England that going ahead with female bishops risks destabilizing both the Church of England and the whole Anglican Communion.

In a report, the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales referred to a "tremendous and intolerable ecclesiological risk" involved in ordaining women as bishops without the assurance that it is right and irreversible.

The Church of England decided in 1992 to allow the ordination of women to the priesthood, and its first female priests were ordained in 1994. It is now considering whether to allow women to become bishops, and a debate is expected at its general synod next February. After that, draft legislation to allow female bishops will be drawn up and presented to the synod.

The Catholic bishops' argument against going ahead with female bishops addressed the effects on the Church of England more than the difficulties that might occur for ecumenical cooperation.

"How could women priests be held to hold valid orders if it were one day discerned that the original decision to ordain them was not consonant with the will of God as expressed in Scripture and tradition?" the Catholic bishops ask.

-- Religion News Service