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February 8, 2006

NOW, NARAL, PLANNED PARENTHOOD, NATIONAL COUNCIL OF WOMEN’S ORGANIZATIONS, & WAKEUPWALMART.COM ISSUE JOINT STATEMENT

Washington D.C. – Today, the National Organization of Women (NOW), NARAL Pro-Choice America, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the National Council of Women’s Organizations, and WakeUpWalmart.com issued a joint statement calling on Wal-Mart’s CEO Lee Scott and Wal-Mart to stop denying women their “”right to access a legally-approved drug.”” The joint statement is in response to a lawsuit filed by three Massachusetts women who are suing Wal-Mart over its failure to provide access to emergency contraceptive pills.

“”Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott must stop this policy of denying millions of American women access to a legal medicine. Wal-Mart should not be able to use its massive power to dictate a woman’s right to choose her own medication,”” stated Paul Blank, campaign director for WakeUpWalMart.com

The joint statement issued by America’s leading women’s groups representing over 10 million women and WakeUpWalMart.com directly states that CEO Lee Scott and Wal-Mart should not “”decide what medicines women may or may not take.”” The group further states, “”Wal-Mart’s actions are clearly an outrageous intrusion into the health and privacy of all U.S. women. When a doctor prescribes emergency contraception for a woman, Wal-Mart does not have the right to overrule that decision.”” The entire statement is available below.

WakeUpWalMart.com also announced the launch of the “”Wal-Mart vs. Women…Again”” campaign. The initial campaign will focus on online grassroots activism. The group will launch online advertising on progressive websites asking Americans to sign a petition calling on Wal-Mart and CEO Lee Scott to change its policy which denies millions of women access to legal medicine. The campaign also points out Wal-Mart’s troubling record on women’s issues, including the largest gender discrimination lawsuit in history affecting more than 1.6 million female employees, a recent accusation by a former Connecticut worker who says Wal-Mart fired her because she was pregnant, and the current lawsuit filed by three Massachusetts women against Wal-Mart for being denied access to a legal medicine.

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Joint Statement in Support of Lawsuit Demanding Access to Emergency Contraception at Wal-Mart

At the same time Wal-Mart faces the largest gender discrimination class action lawsuit in U.S. history, affecting 1.6 million women, three Massachusetts women are now suing Wal-Mart over its failure to provide access to emergency contraceptive pills.

Wal-Mart’s decision not to stock or sell emergency contraception-also known as Plan B or the “”morning-after pill””-unnecessarily denies women everywhere their right to access a legally-approved drug. The lawsuit charges that Wal-Mart is violating a Massachusetts policy requiring pharmacies in the state to dispense all “”commonly prescribed medicines.””

Wal-Mart’s CEO Lee Scott should not decide what medicines women may or may not take. Wal-Mart’s actions are clearly an outrageous intrusion into the health and privacy of all U.S. women. When a doctor prescribes emergency contraception for a woman, Wal-Mart does not have the right to overrule that decision.

To be most effective, emergency contraception should be taken within 72 hours of unprotected intercourse or contraceptive failure. Because Wal-Mart has put so many smaller stores out of business, in a number of areas it is the only pharmacy for miles. No woman at risk for unintended pregnancy, be it the result of a broken condom or sexual assault, should be turned away by Wal-Mart and forced to find another pharmacy while the clock is ticking.

Wal-Mart’s statement that they choose “”not to carry many products for business reasons,”” rings hollow and dismisses the heartfelt concerns of many women in this country.

We strongly support the lawsuit brought in Massachusetts and will fight to make sure all women who work at Wal-Mart or choose to shop there are treated fairly and equally and have access to all legally-approved medications.

We call on Wal-Mart to stop discriminating against women, reverse their policy on blocking access to emergency contraception pills, and to ensure, in the future, all legal medicines are provided to women at Wal-Mart pharmacies across the U.S.

Paul Blank
Campaign Director
WakeUpWalMart.com

Dr. Martha Burk
Director, Corporate Accountability Project
National Council of Women’s Organizations

Kim Gandy
President
National Organization for Women

Nancy Keenan
President
NARAL Pro-Choice American

Karen Pearl
Interim President
Planned Parenthood Federation of America