Will Women Have to Prove Their Moral Worth to Run Basic Errands Now?

What Women Really Think
Sept. 26 2012 4:00 PM

Exciting New Opportunity For Women To Get Judged While Running Errands!

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Woman cuts coupons. Maybe if she worked harder, she wouldn't need them.

Photo by KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images

Running chores is already an irritating part of life, especially for America's overbooked and overworked adult female population. Now, on top of having to make the time, find the parking, and remember the shopping list, it seems women have to worry about possibly running across cashiers and pharmacists who, drunk on the rantings of Rush Limbaugh and Pat Robertson, want to take a little direct political action and deem you morally unworthy of finishing your transaction.

An Illinois appeals court upheld a ruling on Friday allowing pharmacists to refuse to sell emergency contraception to women, even though it's legal without a prescription. Not only were individual pharmacists granted the right to deny you the ability to speedily suppress your ovulation, but the court also agreed corporations should retain the right to refuse to sell women emergency contraception if they deemed that it somehow violated their conscience, though being without brains, corporations really don't have consciences.

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This is just the most recent event in an expanding movement to squash women's access to contraception at the pharmacy level. The National Women's Law Center has a handy guide to the issue, including many examples of women facing pharmacists who refuse to fill out birth control prescriptions or sell emergency contraception, often on the grounds that they are concerned about "life" or unfounded claims that the pill is dangerous.

Much of the blame for this problem now rests on President Obama. While his administration has been otherwise excellent on contraception access issue, the Obama HHS overruled an FDA ruling to put emergency contraception on the shelves, where women could simply pick it up with their socks and aspirin, bypassing judgmental pharmacists. Now you have to go to the counter and ask for it with an ID, giving your pharmacist a chance to ask a bunch of nosy questions before imperiously deciding if he'll (or she'll) let you control your own body.

Now it seems that political action via customer harassment has expanded beyond slut-shaming married mothers for wanting the pill. A woman in Warner Robins, Georgia, complained to a local TV station because a manager at the Kroger decided to humiliate her for trying to buy her groceries with food stamps. Cindy Nerger, 28, can't work right now because she spends so much time receiving dialysis while waiting for a kidney transplant. But the Kroger manager apparently decided that it must be that she's one of those lazy takers that Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney keep talking about, and yelled, "Excuse me for working for a living and not relying on food stamps!" after Nerger successfully demonstrated that her food stamp card covered her grocery bill.

There's a lot of hand wringing in the Beltway these days about the lack of "civility" on the Hill, but these sorts of incidents are far more frightening.

Amanda Marcotte is a Brooklyn-based writer and DoubleX contributor. She also writes regularly for the Daily Beast, AlterNet, and USA Today. Follow her on Twitter.