RELIGION

Groups press Walgreens on religious restrictions in clinics

Four groups led by the American Civil Liberties Union are asking Walgreens for reassurance that the drugstore's partnership with a Catholic system to run in-store clinics in the St. Louis area won't limit access to birth control.

SSM Health, a St. Louis-based Catholic system, owns 27 clinics in Walgreens stores in Missouri and Illinois. The clinics open later this month.

The ACLU letter says SSM Health follows restrictions on contraceptives enforced by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The letter echoes concerns in Oregon and Washington over a similar deal between Providence Health and Walgreens.

Walgreens referred questions to SSM Health, whose spokesman Jason Merrill says the clinics will continue normal services and patients requiring care "beyond the scope of what is appropriate for a retail clinic" will be referred elsewhere.