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NO BIRTH CONTROL AT DRUGSTORE

A new drugstore in Virginia is putting its faith in an unconventional business plan: No candy. No sodas. No birth control. Divine Mercy Care Pharmacy is among at least seven U.S. pharmacies refusing as a matter of faith to sell contraceptives of any kind. States have been wrestling with the issue of pharmacists who refuse on religious grounds to dispense birth control or morning-after pills, and some have enacted laws requiring drugstores to fill the prescriptions. But in Virginia, pharmacists can turn away any prescription for any reason.

"I am grateful to be able to practice," pharmacy manager Robert Semler said, "where my faith does not have to be checked at the door."

The store's policy has drawn scorn from abortion rights groups, who have called for a boycott.

"If this emboldens other pharmacies, it could really affect low-income and rural women," said Tarina Keene, of the National Abortion Rights Action League.

Robert Laird, of Divine Mercy Care, believes many of the estimated 50,000 Catholics within a few miles of the store will support its mission and make up for the business that contraceptives represent.

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