Pharmacist Denies Teen Birth Control

What would you do if you saw a pharmacist refuse to give a teen contraceptives?

ByABC News
March 6, 2009, 10:36 AM

March 9, 2009— -- Imagine going to the pharmacy to pick up a prescription. Sitting in the waiting area and reading the newspaper, you suddenly hear an unusual conversation between a young girl and a pharmacist at the counter. Could it be? Is the pharmacist really refusing to fill that young girl's birth control prescription because of "moral issues"?

Watch the story on "What Would You Do?" March 10 at 10 p.m. ET

ABC's "What Would You Do?" set up hidden cameras in Morristown, N.J., at White's Pharmacy on South Street to find out how customers would react in such a situation. Unbeknown to the customers, the pharmacist and the 16-year-old girl were actors hired by ABC News and their dialogue was scripted.

But New Jersey state law is quite real, so it's illegal for pharmacists to deny a valid prescription if they have the drug in stock.

Nine hidden cameras monitored customers' reactions in a nearby control room. Some of them were surprising.

Marlee Roberts, the actress hired by ABC News, had a young and innocent look that ABC News emphasized by dressing her in a conservative private-school girl's uniform. She also arrived at the pharmacy counter with no parents or guardians in tow.

As she asked the pharmacist to fill her birth control prescription and he refused, she acted more and more anxious and inquisitive. The pharmacist rebutted with, "You have a couple of choices: abstinence and abstinence. That would be my suggestion. ... Quite frankly, your doctor is completely irresponsible. She's giving you a license to have sex. ... I answer to a higher authority and I'm not going to give you the prescription. Not on my watch."

Ted Gartner was one of the first customers to speak up, telling Marlee, "I think [the pharmacist is] wrong. He has no business doing that. It's his personal decision."