Pharmacy companies such as Walmart, CVS and Rite Aid are reportedly putting a cap on the number of morning-after birth control pills each consumer can buy in the US, in the wake of the supreme court’s decision overturning Roe v Wade.
Meanwhile, online retailer Amazon has placed a temporary limit of three units a week on emergency contraception pills, the company said.
Walmart put a cap of four or six units of their morning-after pills for orders scheduled for delivery through the end of the month, but no such caps exist for deliveries beginning in July.
A Walmart representative said, “during times of fluctuating demand” their limits for online purchases change. They added that there is an online limit the store has to prevent people from stockpiling and re-selling their products for a higher price. No such limit exists in stores, but store managers can make that decision to ensure availability of the products.
Rite Aid has also said they are putting a limit of three per customer for the two brands Plan B and Option 2.
CVS said it had implemented a temporary purchase limit of three on emergency contraception pills Plan B and Aftera. “Immediately following the supreme court decision, we saw a sharp increase in the sale of emergency contraceptives and implemented a temporary purchase limit to ensure equitable access,” said Matt Blanchette, CVS spokesperson.
He said the company is in the process of removing the limits as sales have “since returned to normal”. He added: “We continue to have ample supply of emergency contraceptives to meet customer needs.”
Meanwhile, Walgreens said in a statement that the company does not have any such limits. “Walgreens is still able to meet demand in-store, including leveraging digital-first solutions like curbside pickup. At this time, we are working to restock online inventory for ship-to-home,” the statement said.
But many in the US are stockpiling. Soon after the leak that tipped off advocates and healthcare providers that Roe would be overturned, Bedatri D Choudhury, a culture journalist in New York, decided to stock up on morning-after pills.
The service she uses for her birth control recently offered her emergency morning-after pills at no additional cost.
Even though Choudhury is on birth control, she thought, “Why not, even if I don’t need it, someone else might.” For her, it was about her community of freelancers, immigrants, those without insurance – a group she herself had been a part of.
“I have been there – paying for birth control and I know they’d rather pay rent than put money into buying birth control pills,” she said. “I get it, I did it too, before I had insurance.”
Now her friends have been instructed to inform anyone in need that she has spare packs.
Choudhury’s worries echo what many advocates have been saying about who the ban will hurt most: people of color, the poor, and immigrants.
Concerns like Choudhury’s are not uncommon, especially given that Justice Clarence Thomas’ opinion on Friday urged the supreme court to “reconsider” past rulings legalizing same-sex marriage and contraception.
“To ensure equitable access and consistent supply on store shelves, we’ve implemented a temporary purchase limit of three on these products”, a CVS Health employee told NBC News, while noting they had “ample supply” of morning-after emergency medication.
Since the ruling, experts have warned that restrictions over contraceptives access could be next.
Wendy Parmet, director of the Center for Health Policy and Law at Northeastern University, told NBC that states that are trying to ban abortion from the moment of conception could try to challenge Plan B, emergency contraception and even IUDs.