Jersey City Rite Aid Allegedly Refused to Sell Man Emergency Contraception Due to His Gender

A Jersey City man who says a local pharmacy allegedly refused to sell him emergency contraception because of his gender is being backed by the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey (ACLU) in his demand for an apology.

Andrew Andrade, 25, says that he tried to purchase Plan B, an FDA-approved brand of emergency contraception, on April 23 at a Rite Aid located at 337 Central Ave. The New Jersey City University graduate student says he decided to make the trip to the Heights neighborhood pharmacy since his daytime schedule was more flexible than that of his girlfriend, who works full-time.

At the store, the Jersey City native says several members of the pharmacy staff and the pharmacy manager refused to sell the item to him, incorrectly claiming that the law prohibited men from buying emergency contraception. Andrade was able to make the purchase, however, at another Central Avenue pharmacy, Bond Drugs, soon after without incident.

“I asked for the pill and they just asked for my ID, verified my age and sold me the pill,” said Andrade, who contacted the ACLU soon after the incident. “This is a situation where time is sensitive and if another male needs access to the pill, he shouldn’t be restricted from buying it. Everyone should be aware of the process of buying this pill and no one should have to go through this again.”

The NJ chapter of the ACLU sent a letter asking for the Pennsylvania-based national chain to apologize to Andrade for refusing to sell him emergency contraception based on his gender and seeking corrective action for its employees’ violations of FDA guidelines and New Jersey’s anti-discrimination laws.

“This pharmacy’s refusal to sell emergency contraception to men flouts the FDA’s clear guidelines that anyone who is at least 17 years old and has valid ID can make these purchases and it amounts to discrimination,” said Deputy Director Jeanne LoCicero, who sent the letter yesterday on behalf of Andrade. “Pharmacists and other staff do not have the personal discretion to interfere with the fundamental rights surrounding some of the most intimate decisions a person can make,” she added.

Rite Aid spokeswoman Ashley Flower said that the company received the letter this morning. She added that the pharmacy’s official policy is to sell emergency contraception to any patient, male or female, over the age of 17 with government-issued photo ID.

Flower said Rite Aid officials are currently looking into the incident.

The ACLU has previously fought against alleged gender discrimination in similar cases involving other pharmacies who have refused to sell emergency contraception to men. Most recently, they fought against stores in Georgia and Alabama in March.

Andrew Andrade tells his story in this ACLU video:

Summer Dawn Hortillosa

is a freelance arts and entertainment writer whose work has appeared in the Jersey City Independent, The Jersey Journal, the International and other publications. She is also a creative writer and theatrical director.