CVS and Abortifacients/Contraceptives


As a cashier at CVS I usually ring up abortifacients and contraceptives on a daily basis. Sometimes I have to stock shelves or check expiration dates on these items. Just the other day I had a young woman come through my line. She looked nervous and scared. Out of her coat pocket she produced Plan B. I rang it up for her. I felt so guilty afterwards, knowing that if I wasn’t working as a cashier I could have said something. These types of situations happen all the time in my line. A couple months ago a young boy was pressuring his teary-eyed girlfriend to purchase some abortifacients. I just rang her up, feeling awful afterwards. I feel like I should no longer be working at this job. It’s like working at a gun store that sells guns mainly for sport, but every now and then some man purchases a combat specialized gun designed to harm or kill humans.


What abortifacients are they selling over the counter at CVS???


My understanding is that there are times when the Church is OK with the use of plan B, such as immediately following a rape. Someone please correct me if I’m wrong.

Sorry, OP, no advice–but try seeking a new job if it makes you this uncomfortable. :slight_smile:


No, the Catholic Church condemns all types of artificial birth control and abortion, whether it be a micro-abortion-causing abortifacient or anything.


In 2001 the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued their revised “Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services”. Directive 36 states:

“A female who has been raped should be able to defend herself against a potential conception from the sexual assault. If after appropriate testing, there is no evidence that conception has occurred already, she may be treated with medications that would prevent ovulation, sperm capacitation, or fertilization. It is not permissible, however, to initiate or to recommend treatments that have as their purpose or direct effect the removal, destruction, or interference with the implantation of a fertilized ovum”. (1)

The Directive does not specify what constitutes “appropriate testing” or “evidence that conception has occurred”. Consequently, Directive 36 has been subject to different interpretations.


I believe some bishops have stated that it is theoretically acceptable if the woman has certainty that she hasn’t ovulated yet when she takes it. Is such a case, it could not function as an abortifacient.


That isn’t correct. Abortion even after a rape is still considered gravely sinful - the reasoning is that the child is innocent of the crime of its father.

That said, I don’t think I’d have the moral courage to tell a woman made pregnant by rape that she’d have to carry her rapist’s baby to term.

I agree. Do you want more of this burdening your conscience? Or is there room within CVS’ policy to offer intervention - are you allowed to hand out a Birthright brochure? Are you allowed to suggest a counselor? If you saw a girl with a black eye you’d ask in a hearbeat if her boyfriend was beating her, and CVS would back you up in trying to help her. What if you suspected the girl was being trafficked and used as a sex slave or a prostitute? Law enforcement puts up posters in breakrooms of pharmacies asking employees to keep an eye out. I don’t see the situation of a scared young girl (or even scared married woman with two kids sitting in the cart) being that different, though the company might.

Maybe CVS could partner with a Birthright or Crisis Pregnancy Center - “Yes, we’ll sell this to you, but we want you to know you have options.” Even have materials from Planned Parenthood sitting there too - “Come here for free ultrasound” etc. The point is women’s health, right? Really, how healthy is it to induce a miscarriage at home? I don’t care if it has FDA approval, the person is suffering tremendously already if they come in to buy Plan B. I’m actually going to write CVS and ask them to carry counseling information.

The OP did mention a situation of a boyfriend pressuring his teary-eyed girlfriend into buying abortifacients. I honestly would have confronted the boyfriend - “are you sure this is what she wants?” and intervened for the girl “Miss, do you need help? Do you want to carry this baby? Is your boyfriend hurting or threatening you? I can call the police, or I can call a counselor to help you think through these things. Would you like me to do that?”

Yes, I’d probably get fired for doing that. At the same time, what if it wasn’t a boyfriend, but a rapist? Or a pimp? Aren’t we supposed to look out for girls who are being trafficked? Or what if she was buying the abortifacients to get away from an abusive relationship? We can’t be automotons, even if that’s what’s expected of us.

This world needs so much prayer.


Yes, you are wrong. There is never an acceptable time to kill a child, regardless of the tragic circumstances that may have led to the conception.


I stand corrected on the allowability of abortifacients after rape.

Is there such testing available? Can you take an “instant” test that reports with certainty that there is no pregnancy?


Spokespersons for CVS, Rite Aid, and Walgreens told that their companies have put policies in place that allow employees–including pharmacists–to refrain from selling Plan B if they have a moral objection to selling a drug that can induce abortion.

I assume that probably includes other abortifacients as well. Not sure about contraception, although whether at least some contraception should be entirely distinguished from abortifacients is a debate, but you should ask the store manager about your concerns about selling certain items.


There is testing to verify that a woman has not ovulated. No ovulation, no pregnancy.


My apologies for speaking too boldly. I had presumed that conception was known after the rape, but Veritas clearly stated “immediately following”. At that point, then yes, I would defer to Directive 36. I apologize again for my rash response.


The USCCB’s directive in no way endorses abortifacients. The directive specifically mentions the mechanisms which are permissible and condemns the other types, but also suggests testing because some emergency-contraception methods do have more than one mechanism by which they are effective, and pregnancy testing that can rule out the existence of an embryo can prevent an abortion from occurring.


When I had my missed miscarriage my doctor gave me the option of a d&c or a pill to help things along. The pill that she would have prescribed me, had I chosen that option, would have been one of the brands known as “the abortion pill”, which I would have had to go get from a pharmacy. I probably would have been very upset and embarrassed about buying it as well, which was partly why I chose the surgical procedure.


I think that if a person is working a job that burdens their conscience to this degree, that it makes perfect sense to quit and find other work. Unless one is given to extreme scrupulosity to the extent that they cannot conceive that any job is moral due to examining things to extreme degrees, then I think it is right to quit. If they are given to extreme scrupulosity, they should speak to their confessor.

It is not good to participate in something that is eating at our heart and soul.

I do not know the Church teaching on ringing up such sales and whether it is objectively sinful, but I’d suggest looking for another job.

I myself have left jobs where I felt strongly that I did not want to participate in the business taking place there.

There are many reasons that a person might not be suited to a particular job, and moral issues are common and valid ones.


If this weighs on your conscience so much you should find another job. Under no circumstances is it the job of the cashier to offer religious or any other advice to a customer. If you do, you will be looking for another job before you planned to.


It may be worth reiterating for clarity, that this directive is only for the case of rape and is upon immediate examination to try to determine, as best a medical science is able, if a fertilization had occurred. Since this act strictly involves a victim of a violent act; there is no economy of family (or conjugal marriage) issue involved to protect so normal Catholic teaching on this subject doesn’t apply. The action taken is one to avoid a potential fertilization. If a fertilization has already occurred, then no action can be taken to terminate it.


I’m not sure if the act of stocking shelves and ringing up contraception/abortifacients is inherently sinful, but I do know, however, that I (the cashier) am the one who will permit the customer’s purchase of particular items in order for he or she to engage in sinful acts (these acts include the killing of another human being). Some people have told me to just get another employee to ring up these items but even then I feel as if I would still be permitting the sale, just through another line.


It sounds like the Holy Spirit may be compelling you. Take time to thank God for your gift of faith, and that it has formed your conscience correctly. That is a wonderful blessing when you consider the inherent damage those will mal-formed consciences not only to their own spiritual well being but within the communities they affect.

CVS will continue to sell these products whether you are there or not, so it is not really an issue of who’s finger is on the button. I guess the question I would ask myself it, “would it be ok for me to work at PP as long as I only schedule the potential clients and don’t actually flip the vacuum on?” Different people will answer differently on whether that is a fair comparison, but it is a question that each of us has to answer when we consider whether it is best if we work at a particular place.


My friend’s wife has been a pharmacist at CVS for many years…she refuses to have anything to do with contraceptives/abortifacients, and she still works there…

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