Protection from Discrimination in Reproductive Health Care

Under Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (Section 1557), 42 U.S.C. 18116, recipients of federal financial assistance are prohibited from excluding an individual from participation in, denying them the benefits of, or otherwise subjecting them to discrimination on the basis of sex, among other bases, in their health programs and activities.

Under both Section 1557 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504), 29 U.S.C. 794, recipients of federal financial assistance are prohibited from discriminating in their health programs and activities, and all programs and activities, on the basis of disability, respectively.

Discrimination against pregnant people on the basis of their pregnancy or related conditions is a form of sex discrimination, which can have significant health consequences. Under federal civil rights law, pregnancy discrimination includes discrimination based on current pregnancy, past pregnancy, potential or intended pregnancy, and medical conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth. Additionally, while pregnancy itself is not a disability, medical issues resulting from pregnancy can qualify as a disability under Section 504.

Guidance to Nation’s Retail Pharmacies:  Obligations under Federal Civil Rights Laws to Ensure Access to Comprehensive Reproductive Health Care Services – 7/13/2022

Pharmacies—and the pharmacists they employ—play a critical role in the American health care system.  This guidance is to remind the roughly 60,000 retail pharmacies in the United States of the unique role pharmacies play in ensuring access to comprehensive reproductive health care services.  This guidance covers the nondiscrimination obligations of pharmacies under federal civil rights laws. 

HHS is committed to ensuring that people are able to access reproductive health care free from discrimination.  If you believe that your or another person’s civil rights have been violated, you can file a complaint with HHS at:

* People using assistive technology may not be able to fully access information in these files. For assistance, contact the HHS Office for Civil Rights at (800) 368-1019, TDD toll-free: (800) 537-7697, or by emailing

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