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Planned Parenthood Makes a Point at Consumers' Expense

A group of women, backed by Planned Parenthood and NARAL, have sued Wal-Mart for allegedly failing to stock the "morning-after" contraception pill.

The plaintiffs, all women, claim that they tried to buy the contraceptive pills at Wal-Mart but were turned away and told that the store does not carry the drugs.

It was all a set-up, of course, as the AP reports:

The women said they knew they would be refused when they went to the Wal-Marts in Quincy and Lynn and that the action was planned with the abortion rights groups and lawyers. The suit is being backed by Planned Parenthood, NARAL and other abortion rights organizations.

At issue is a Massachusetts statute that requires pharmacies to stock "commonly-prescribed medicines." A letter from Wal-Mart's legal department to the plaintiffs before suit was filed took the position that the morning-after pill was not "commonly-prescribed."

Legal blogger I.M. Kierkegaard writes:

It doesn't sound as if Walmart is holding these women hostage and preventing them from taking their business elsewhere or otherwise affirmatively trying to stop them from getting the pill. Walmart is just deciding not to carry a particular product which, it looks to me, they are not required to carry.

If Wal-Mart had to maintain a ready inventory (in every one one of their 3,800 stores in the U.S.) of every medication that one interest group or another proclaimed to be "commonly-prescribed" the result would be higher costs for Wal-Mart (and its competitors) and higher prices for consumers.

Big-box retailers compete on the basis of "just-in-time" inventory management. A litigation strategy that forces these companies to abandon JIT inventory management makes a political statement at the expense of the consumers who will be unable to avoid higher prices as a consequence. (Cross-posted)



Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.