Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Just sell it Over the Counter.

The Arizona Daily Star reported that a rape victim in Tucson recently tried to get a prescription filled for 'Plan B,' the so-called 'morning after pill' but

While calling dozens of Tucson pharmacies trying to fill a prescription for emergency contraception, she found that most did not stock the drug.

When she finally did find a pharmacy with it, she said she was told the pharmacist on duty would not dispense it because of religious and moral objections.

"I was so shocked," said the 20-year-old woman, who, as a victim of sexual assault, is not being named by the Star. "I just did not understand how they could legally refuse to do this."

In fact, I don't understand why anyone would turn down giving this pill to a rape victim. Forcing someone who has been the victim of a violent sexual assault to carry the child who is the product of that assault is the equivalent of raping them again, every day.

And it's not like denying this pill will prevent rape victims from getting abortions. In fact, having it available would almost certainly put a lot of abortion clinics out of business.

Every time I read stories like this (or the one last year when the woman who had been raped in Texas was lectured about her sexual behavior by an Eckerd pharmacist) it makes me question why the Bush administration has dragged their feet on making it available, despite all the study that has been done in America and overseas saying that it is safe enough, over the counter.

If you sell it over the counter, then the whole issue of pharmacists deciding they know better than a rape victim what she should do about it, will be moot.


dorsano said...

Selling it over the counter may be a practical solution but I think it's a bad precedent to set.

I think this administration's foreign policy is immoral and I'd rather not fund it but I still have to pay my taxes (or go to jail). I work to undo the policy's harm instead and I was prepared to leave the country if regime change was used to justify military action against the DPRK.

How does the pharmacist reconcile "Though shall not kill (murder)" with the war in Iraq? Do they all abide, at least in this instance, with the Hebrew Bible's interpretation?

Whatever the case, it takes an awful lot of mental gymnastics to manage it seems to me.

They're all moral relativists as far as I'm concerned - in their own peculiar way.

In any case, they're starting to piss a lot of people off.

NYC said...

Hi Eli,
Thanks for another good blog entry for us to think about. I think it's terrible for a pharmacist to be able to force their personal moral standards on anyone, I don't care if they're part of the anti-choice right, or if they worship a rock, and dance around naked with a carp, that shouldn't make one heck of a difference, as long as they just do their job and fill prescriptions. Who gave those aggrandized drug store employees so much power? The woman should consider legal action.

I think the Bush administration is dragging their feet on making the pill available, because they need that rabidly pro-life / anti-choice crowd to vote almost exclusively Republican during the 2006 election.

Eli Blake said...

hey, gc. Long time no see.

As for making it available over the counter (as it is in many European countries), to me this is a no-brainer. The research is there, that it has no worse side effects than aspirin, so clinically, there is no reason at all to not make it available over the counter.

And as far as those who say that it is wrong because it prevents either fertilization of an egg, or if taken a little later, the implantation of a fertilized egg (note that this is NOT terminating a pregnancy, it is not beginning one), I have to consider them somewhat hypocritical for this reason: they are consistent in their view about fertilized eggs in their opposition to destroying frozen embryos for stem cell research, but have uttered not a single word about those same frozen embryos being destroyed in incinerators when the couples who had them frozen decide not to pay for them anymore. Which tells me that they are only 'pro-life' when it doesn't cost money, and what kind of 'moral conviction' is that?

I believe that no one wants more abortions. And this pill is a way to make sure that our children will live in a world where abortion is a highly unusual occurence. Why would conservatives fight against that?

Anonymous said...

Seems to me that a pharmacist's job is to fill prescriptions. If someone doesn't do their job, shouldn't they be fired? Good post, Eli.

Anonymous said...

Oop, sorry Eli. Anonymous @ 4:55 was yours truly.

dorsano said...

As a conservative person I agree with the private citizens right to not sell anything they feel is morally objectionable

I think it's pretty well established (maybe I'm mistaken) that a privately owned pharmacy can choose to stock or not to stock whatever it wants.

Only a minority of clinics offer abortions - they are not required to (I'm not sure about state owned clinics).

This is an employee that works for a pharmacy choosing not to sell a product which the pharmacy stocks.

I don't see how that's different than a taxpayer being forced to fund an activity of government that he or she feels is immoral?

How do "conservatives" feel about publically funded abortions? Should those opposed to someone else having an abortion be forced to fund them?

Eli Blake said...

I don't know if I agree with the idea that you can not do what your employer wants. If I refused to provide service to a customer for personal rather than professional reasons, then my employer would be perfectly within their rights to fire me and hire someone who would service all customers.

I would agree that the OWNERS of the pharmacy have the right to not stock any particular product (after all, it's their nickel they are investing) but their employees, unless specifically covered by a union or other contract that says otherwise, do NOT have the right to refuse to perform any aspect of their job (or at least if they do, they should not be surprised or think they are owed anything when they are fired).

dorsano said...

but their employees, unless specifically covered by a union or other contract that says otherwise, do NOT have the right to refuse to perform any aspect of their job

This is too hard to discuss on a blog (it takes too long)

I wonder if there is any precedent along these lines.

If I work at a phenolics plant mixing molding compound and a DOD order comes in for a resin used in mortar shells destined for Iraq, can I expect my employer to let me opt out of mixing that batch?

What if I'm a Quaker (I'd likely not be working in a factory I suppose - but you get the idea)

Eli Blake said...


You could quit. But your employer has the right to expect you to do your job. And if you expect to find certain aspects objectionable, then the time to take care of that is before it comes up, get a contract or other document in writing from your employer specifying what rights you have to refuse to do something. But without such a contract in place, your employer has the right to ask you to do any reasonable job-related task.