Morality in Your Medicine Cabinet: The Pope on Conscientious Objection to Other People's Contraception

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Pope Benedict XVI advises pharmacists that they can refuse to provide women with contraception. According to the AP:

Pope Benedict XVI said Monday that pharmacists have a right to use conscientious objection to avoid dispensing emergency contraception or euthanasia drugs and told them they should also inform patients of the ethical implications of using such drugs.

Benedict told a gathering of Catholic pharmacists that conscientious objection was a right that must be recognized by the pharmaceutical profession.

As reason's very own Kerry Howley noted when this controversy erupted a while back:

Something is off when access to contraception depends on who is working the late shift at Walgreen's. The real scandal is not that women are being denied birth control, but that they have to ask for it. There is no reason why a woman's access to contraception should depend on a single Roman Catholic with a conscience, or why a pharmacist should have to weigh the decision between denying a woman her prescription and violating deeply held moral beliefs.

Contraception doesn't belong behind the counter; it belongs over-the-counter. A woman's access shouldn't hinge on whether she has health insurance, whether she has a doctor she can call at 5 a.m., or how her neighbors feel about the culture of life. Women should be able to order stacks of the stuff off of the internet to keep in their medicine cabinets, and pharmacists should be free to keep their drugstores clear of anything they find morally questionable. Pharmacy owners should be equally free to work out their own individual policies—and employ workers who agree to abide by them.

Whole AP story here.

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  1. When there aren’t government-imposed barriers to entry that basically guarantee market-distorting prices for their services, then they can be as conscientious as they want to be. But right now, they need to either shut up and dispense the drugs, or lobby REALLY hard to end the behind-the-counter regulations that require their inclusion in the sales process in the first place.

  2. Ronald, cross out the word “weighs”

  3. I know this is Ron’s post, but to respond to Kerry. — Great, I agree with your diagnoses of the problem. But what do you do in the current reality? Allow conscientious pharmacists to lecture and deny women what is legally theirs?

  4. As a licensed pharmacist and devout Christian Scientist, when I staff the counter at Walgreen’s I tell people seeking medication to go home and pray.

  5. The last link is not the AP story.

  6. According to my girlfriend who works at a pharmacy, Plan B (the abortifacient drug) is available in the aisles (ie., not even “over the counter”). So this seems much of a tempest in a teapot. (Plan B is available otc, but condoms are locked up at Kroger Pharmacies. Go figure.)

    Nothing like a good “Sally in Kansas can’t buy her contraceptives” story to rile up reason readers.

  7. jj,

    IIRC from my youth working at a pharmacy, the reason the condoms were behind the counter was because they were the number one shoplifted item when they were out on the floor.

  8. If I was a pharmacist there is no way in hell I would supply Plan B to patients. Its dangerous to the mother and the fetus. And, as a libertarian/anarchist, I believe that choice has only to do with me and my employer. Buy all the friggin poison from amazon.com for all I care.

  9. Syloson,

    Good question — no idea. It’s nuts!

    jj

  10. Sixstring is right. Condoms and RID (anti-lice med) are the two most commonly shoplifted items in any pharmacy section.

    I’m not saying they go hand in hand mind you.

  11. Thanks sixstring, that makes sense.

    I thought they gave condoms away on campus? Perhaps stolen “fruit” feels better?

  12. Um, no, the condom’s for the bananas.
    The nuts provide the filling.

    hugs,
    Shirley Knott

    Abortion — not a right, a responsibility. Do it now, do it often!

  13. Not at Catholic school. Stealing is a venial sin when you are a horny teenager. It’s practically expected.

  14. Why lock up condoms?

    Because they commit murder.

    BA DUM DUM.

  15. jj | October 30, 2007, 4:35pm | #
    If I was a pharmacist there is no way in hell I would supply Plan B to patients. Its dangerous to the mother and the fetus.

    The whole reason that it’s available over the counter is that it’s been pretty thoroughly tested and there’s no more immediate danger to the mother than the regular old pill, and none of the long-term effects since it’s not used chronically the way the pill is.

    And do you see the irony in suggesting that a contraceptive is dangerous to the fetus?

  16. The Pope should advise his Priest to stop molesting little boys. That’s truly a SIN and a CRIME with a living VICTIM.

  17. God damn it. Remind me to uncheck the ‘remember me’ box when posting my “Buddist so-and-so” jokes. The above “Buddhist Sam Beckett” post is me.

  18. Kerry is being fallacious. If abortifacents were over-the-counter, then instead of women’s liberty being held hostage to Walgreen’s Catholic pharmacist, it would be held hostage to Walgreen’s Catholic clerk.

    Godammit! If I don’t want to sell birth control to women, cigarettes to minors, or marijuana to cancer patients, that’s my right! I am incensed that so-called libertarians are arguing to take that right away from me! If they don’t like the fact that the Walgreen’s pharmacist won’t sell them cyanide capsules for their terminally ill Aunt Tillie, they can do down the street to Rite-Aid!

  19. The article was written before Plan B (the morning-after pill) was available over the counter. But the sentiment still applies to run-of-the-mill contraception, which continues, in the absence of any significant health risk, to require a prescription. It’s expensive and cumbersome to obtain hormonal birth control, especially for a woman without health insurance. That’s stupid.

  20. Brandybuck,

    I’d like her better if she was being fellatious. Well, a guy can dream, right?

  21. But what do you do in the current reality? Allow conscientious pharmacists to lecture and deny women what is legally theirs?

    Sure! As long as they own the pharmacy. Otherwise, They are morally obliged to move their ass and their employers merchandise. Life is so simple when you’re a genius (smartass?).

  22. Kerry,

    I need a prescription for my contacts. Im pretty sure plastic on my eye poses less of a risk than contraceptive drugs.

    Lets start with the lowest risk items and work our way up.

  23. Godammit! If I don’t want to sell birth control to women, cigarettes to minors, or marijuana to cancer patients, that’s my right! I am incensed that so-called libertarians are arguing to take that right away from me! If they don’t like the fact that the Walgreen’s pharmacist won’t sell them cyanide capsules for their terminally ill Aunt Tillie, they can do down the street to Rite-Aid!

    Who’s made that argument? The argument here is that many things that only a pharmacist may sell shouldn’t be things that only a pharmacist may sell.

  24. Godammit! If I don’t want to sell birth control to women, cigarettes to minors, or marijuana to cancer patients, that’s my right! I am incensed that so-called libertarians are arguing to take that right away from me!

    Who is arguing that you must? All purchases involve more than one party. Not all involve seeking the permission of a licensed professional with prescribing powers.

  25. “If they don’t like the fact that the Walgreen’s pharmacist won’t sell them cyanide capsules for their terminally ill Aunt Tillie, they can do down the street to Rite-Aid!”

    Isn’t the pharmacist at Walgreen’s just a employee on the payroll or is he some sort of franchise holder ? If he is an employee, then how can he make “conscientious” decisions to turn down consumer requests ? What if the clerk at the counter started making donation’s to homeless people from the register because Jesus said so somewhere & he’s in service of Jesus. Seems to me that this dude is flirting with a firing.

  26. Buddhist,

    Plan B is an abortifacient (i.e, a post contraception contraceptive). So yeah, there is a fetus, and the fetus dies. (Although technically the term fetus is used after 8 weeks development.)

    Plan B has had serious side effects resulting in death in a number of cases. It is a high dosage of standard contraceptive, so all of those risks apply also.

    My girlfriend’s looking up the risks in her “big Pharm book” as we speak, so I’ll have more to contribute in a moment.

    By the way, just because the glorious FDA has approved a drug as “over the counter” is IMHO NO reason to trust it to be safe. The Vioxx sitting in my medicine cabinet is testament to that fact.

  27. Brandybuck,
    As long as the Walgreen’s pharmacist is using the coercive power of the state to exclude competitors from the labor market, he gives up some of his right to determine who he will serve.

    Get rid of pharmacist licensing and/or controlled substances laws and nobody would care if one pharmacist doesn’t want to sell the pill.

  28. I thought Plan B more or less guarantees what was likely to happen anyway? That is, a blastocyst on a sanitary napkin.

  29. The solution here is for a Catholic organization to start it’s own damn pharmacy chain where everyone knows you don’t go for contraceptives and the like.

    It’s like a waitress at a diner refusing to sell people coffee because they have a conscientious objection to serving people non “fair-trade” coffee, or drugs, or something.

  30. SM said: If he is an employee, then how can he make “conscientious” decisions to turn down consumer requests ?

    SM, he has every right to do so — and his employer has every right to fire his ass if they feel inclined. I’m training to become a doctor, and I’ll sooner be fired than prescribe that crap.

    I’m against government regulation of abortion. But there’s no getting around the fact that abortion is the murder of a developing human — call him/her/it whatever you will.

    This issue is so heavily politicized (by left and right) that the science and possible solutions are totally unconsidered.

  31. If the Pope (or anyone) directs individuals regulated by the respective states to act in a manner in conflict with said regulations, isn’t that abetting a criminal act? And could he be charged as an acessory if one acts on said direction?

  32. Tbone: you’re right, jail them illegal abolitionists — oh, wait we’re now for those criminals, aren’t we?

  33. Side effects of Plan B (from the medical records):

    Extreme: Blindness, death, stroke

    “Milder” symptoms: abdominal, pain, vomiting, mentrual changes, nervousness

  34. Kerry’s argument is fine and good. It just doesn’t apply to conscientious objection. I find it odd and bizarre to find an H&R post that seems to suggest that one person (the customer) can violate another person’s right of conscience (the pharmacist). To suggest that the latter MUST comply is to suggest that that person has a legal or moral OBLIGATION to provide something TO somebody. Sounds like the assertion of a positive right to me.

    To answer “but the customer has the right to contraception” — true, but either 1) take Kerry’s advice and make it more widely available or 2) shop somewhere else. What happened to letting the market decide? I’m all for a little bit of regulation here and there, but in ANY other context all the libertarians here would be crying bloody murder.

  35. Reinmoose – St. Joe health center in South Bend, IN is an example of that.

    David – shhhh. people like “jj” will get hysterical with that and prefer to live in their state of deliberate ignorance.

  36. robc, I kinda doubt you can properly and competently fit yourself for contacts, regardless of the harmlessness of the plastic itself.

  37. VM,

    You’re welcome to stereotype me as you wish. Unfortunately this leads to no serious dialog or workable solutions. Since I’m against all government regulation of abortion, what do you fear from me?

    From an evolutionary/life perspective, no, it’s not the purpose of a blastocyst to “end up on a sanitary napkin.”

    I welcome intellectual conversation. I don’t think we have much to fear if we do just that.

    jj

  38. “robc, I kinda doubt you can properly and competently fit yourself for contacts, regardless of the harmlessness of the plastic itself.”

    Jennifer – RobC is not fitting himself. He’s been fitted. He knows his prescription and the curvature of his eyes. He just wants to buy contacts made to those specifications. Why should he NOT be able to order them online?

    Does not apply.

    CB

  39. Contraception doesn’t belong behind the counter; it belongs over-the-counter.

    As do all drugs, unless the retailer choses or the manufacturer contractually requires otherwise.

    I don’t see why contraceptives should have a different status than any other drugs.

    Well, unless your motive is feminist politics rather than individual liberty and property rights.

    Ron and Kerry’s writings indicate the former.

  40. Plan B is an abortifacient (i.e, a post contraception contraceptive).

    Interesting definition.

    Plan B is estrogen (actually progestin, but we’re lay folks here), just like regular birth control pills, but in a higher dose. The purpose is twofold: to prevent ovulation and or fertilization, and if fertilization has occured to prevent implantation.

    Just because you use Plan B after intercourse does not make it an abortifacient. Regular birth control pills work the same way. An abortifcient works after implantation; contraception works before implantation.

    RU486 (mifestone), OTOH, is an abortifacient since it works after implantation.

    “Milder” symptoms: abdominal, pain, vomiting, mentrual changes, nervousness

    Um, yeah. It’s estrogen. Generally being used by someone who isn’t currently on the pill. It would tend to have that effect especially the menstrual changes part.

  41. Why lock up condoms?

    I believe condoms are locked up for purposes of Loss Prevention. Same reason why things like Vagisil and Gillete razor cartridges are locked up. These things have high theft rates.

    t just doesn’t apply to conscientious objection. I find it odd and bizarre to find an H&R post that seems to suggest that one person (the customer) can violate another person’s right of conscience (the pharmacist). To suggest that the latter MUST comply is to suggest that that person has a legal or moral OBLIGATION to provide something TO somebody. Sounds like the assertion of a positive right to me.

    When that one person is the gatekeeper and the state only allows gatekeepers to dispense it and control access to what the customer want/need, then yes, they should be compelled to dispense anything that is legal.

    The only reason the pharmacist has any say in the matter is because the state has bestowed gatekeeper status upon them. That privileged status is what allows a pharmacist to be compelled to do something despite their “morals”.

    By becoming a pharmacist, you are choosing a profession that is already heavily regulated. That is the price you pay for choosing a privileged profession. Suck it up and shut your mouth and dispense the drugs and lobby the government to get rid of your gatekeeper status on things you find morally objectionable this way you don’t have to be compelled to do things you don’t agree with.

  42. By becoming a pharmacist, you are choosing a profession that is already heavily regulated. That is the price you pay for choosing a privileged profession. Suck it up and shut your mouth and dispense the drugs and lobby the government to get rid of your gatekeeper status on things you find morally objectionable this way you don’t have to be compelled to do things you don’t agree with.

    QFT.

    *internet five*

    **internet buying of bier for this statement!**

  43. JJ,
    Listing side effects without reporting their frequency is pretty much worthless. Aspirin has some pretty serious side effects. Rare, but serious.

    By the way, just because the glorious FDA has approved a drug as “over the counter” is IMHO NO reason to trust it to be safe. The Vioxx sitting in my medicine cabinet is testament to that fact.

    Your point is still valid, but FYI: Vioxx was never OTC.

    Plan B is an abortifacient (i.e, a post contraception contraceptive)

    No, that’s not true. At best, that’s a controversial claim that isn’t supported by any science. At worst, it’s a misrepresentation of evidence indicating that Plan B is NOT an abortifacient. http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2005/11/22/60minutes/main1068924.shtml.

  44. Jennifer – RobC is not fitting himself. He’s been fitted. He knows his prescription and the curvature of his eyes. He just wants to buy contacts made to those specifications. Why should he NOT be able to order them online?

    Who can’t order contacts online once they have a prescription?

    I think the issue is: can I buy what I think is the right prescription without having to actually going to see a doctor and pay for an exam?

    And I thought you could. When my wife buys contacts online, she merely tells them the specs, they don’t require proof of a prescription. (I don’t wear contacts or glasses so I may be wrong)

  45. I think the Democratic Republican has it about right.

    When did we lose the distinction between the state denying you the right to use contraception and individual declining to sell it to you?

  46. Ah, de stijl beat me to my final point about plan B. His post is also more informative on that issue.

  47. A pharmacy is a private business. The pharmacist who refuses to sell the good is not denying access to the product in general, simply access to his property and services for the purposes of acquiring it.

  48. jj – my point (I’m the guy who posted as ‘Buddhist’ above – a joke in another thread gone awry) had less to do with the fact that a fetus might exist than with the fact that this is a contraceptive/abortifacient – and that thus the blastocyst (as you note above, it is insufficiently developed to accurately be called a fetus) if it is fertilized, will not implant if the drug works as directed. To characterize this as ‘harm’ however, is a little ironic, since the whole point is to prevent pregnancy. The basic idea is that it is specifically not wanted.

    It’s a bit like saying that DDT is detrimental to mosquito health. It’s true, but it’s also kinda the whole point.

  49. When did we lose the distinction between the state denying you the right to use contraception and individual declining to sell
    it to you?

    A pharmacy is a private business. The pharmacist who refuses to sell the good is not denying access to the product in general, simply access to his property and services for the purposes of acquiring it.

    When the pharmacist MUST became a licensed agent of the state in order to dispense drugs, the pharmacist is in essence an extension of the state.

    Pretending that the distinction doesn’t exist/matter merely is disingenuous.

  50. de stijl, you bring up an interesting point.

    As you know, abortifacients “abort” or end pregnancy. If you consider pregnancy to begin at implantation then yes, Plan B is a contraceptive. If pregnancy is considered to start at fertilization then Plan B is an abortifacient. Viewed from a genetic (meiotic) standpoint, I’d say the latter is the case.

    Respectfully.

  51. “Milder” symptoms: abdominal, pain, vomiting, mentrual changes, nervousness

    Um, yeah. It’s estrogen. Generally being used by someone who isn’t currently on the pill. It would tend to have that effect especially the menstrual changes part.

    Not to mention that these symptoms are a cool groove compared to the symptoms of pregnancy.

  52. Lunch wrote: “To characterize this as ‘harm’ however, is a little ironic, since the whole point is to prevent pregnancy. The basic idea is that it is specifically not wanted.”

    Agreed. From the customer’s standpoint the purpose is, as you state, the destruction of the fetus. I was addressing the issue from the viewpoint of the pharmacist. I appreciate the irony. Thanks.

  53. jj,

    Abolition was moral in that it sought to secure the rights of an actual person.

    I do not view the morality similarly for potential persons. I am OK with a bright line at viability, but prior to that, not so much.

    I’m not really interested in jailing the pope. Requiring the pharmacists to dispense or lose their job, no problem. Fining/jailing owners who attempt to force them to not dispense contrary to state licensing requirements, also, no problem.

  54. jj,

    From a medical and legal perspective, implantation is the boundary.

    We all need to establish our own ethical boundary, however.

  55. Contientious objection, I seem to recall applied to military service, was that if you contientiously objected, you didn’t become a soldier. How ’bout the same for pharmacists? They can go into another line of work.

  56. jj – I think the general view of the medical profession (IANAD) holds pregnancy as implantation, not fertilization as a point of definition. You could define it differently, but that’s a bit like saying that you could define a car as a truck because it’s got four wheels and can carry cargo. It’s true, but it isn’t the way that the language is used in the general sense.

    If you have sex during ovulation, and fertilization occurs, you’ve only got something like a fifty percent chance of that blastocyst implanting. Typically we don’t consider such situations to be ‘pregnancies’ or ‘miscarriages’. They are generally considered failed conceptions.


  57. Agreed. From the customer’s standpoint the purpose is, as you state, the destruction of the fetus. I was addressing the issue from the viewpoint of the pharmacist. I appreciate the irony. Thanks.

    Even a pro-life pharmacist would know that the term ‘fetus’ doesn’t apply. The proper terms at this stage of development are ‘blastocyst’ or ‘zygote’. Using the term ‘fetus’ is a bit misleading, as it indicates that cute little thing with the hands and the feet and the big head.

  58. lunchstealer:

    The more I study endocrinology, the more I’ve come realize that there’s no such thing as estrogen or any other chemical substance being “just” a hormone. From my experience in the ER I believe that we know incredibly little about the overall effects of most of the substances we pump into people’s bodies. (I’ve seen a patient come into my ER with a dislocated knee and almost leave in a morgue bag because she’d been prescribed an “acceptable” amount of pain-killers. When it’s a life-or-death situation I’m all for taking the risks. But when there’s an option, I’d say think twice and three times over.

    You’ll notice I mentioned nothing in this posting about the abortion issue because for me there is a larger philosophical issue at stake. I’d bet that many of today’s drugs will be considered the stuff of quackery and superstition 100 years from now. It takes a hell of a lot of faith to swallow many of the pills coming out of pharma, and I want people to think twice before doing so.

  59. ChicagoTom, does your highly regulated or protected criteria hold true for other businesses? How about the liquor store that won’t sell Everclear because it might be used to make crack (or whatever its illicit use is)? Or, how about a surgeon that refuses to use a certain approved technique because he/she doesn’t like it for whatever reason? Hairstylist that only does hair for people of certain ethnicities? Tradesman that will only do new construction? Prostitute that won’t service icky cutomers? Masseuse that won’t rub my sore genitals? I’m assuming you will apply some kind of criteria involving the necessity of the service?

  60. “Even a pro-life pharmacist would know that the term ‘fetus’ doesn’t apply.”

    please read back a few posts–we’ve already agreed to that point. (Did you miss that one?)

    Colloquially fetus is used earlier than the technical 8 week limit. Ask any doc at a hospital.

  61. By becoming a pharmacist, you are choosing a profession that is already heavily regulated. That is the price you pay for choosing a privileged profession. Suck it up and shut your mouth and dispense the drugs and lobby the government to get rid of your gatekeeper status on things you find morally objectionable this way you don’t have to be compelled to do things you don’t agree with.

    Can we require lawyers to provide criminal defense and other legal services to the poor and indigent?

  62. “If you have sex during ovulation, and fertilization occurs, you’ve only got something like a fifty percent chance of that blastocyst implanting. Typically we don’t consider such situations to be ‘pregnancies’ or ‘miscarriages’. They are generally considered failed conceptions.”

    Actually we do. It’s called a failed miscarriage. Women with early miscarriages are known to suffer from depression identical to those whose pregnancies last longer.

    Regardless of the chosen terms (fetus/blastocyst, abortifacient/contraceptive, cute baby/ugly tadpole) many of us libertarians (of atheist and religious stripes) really do believe that life begins at conception. And it’s not that we want to force our dictatorial whims on you. After dispassionately considering the facts, we see things this way. I would never paint all pro-choice people as wackos, and I hope that you’ll extend the same courtesy.

  63. correction: failed pregnancy or miscarriage. tomato/tomahto

  64. You’ll notice I mentioned nothing in this posting about the abortion issue because for me there is a larger philosophical issue at stake. I’d bet that many of today’s drugs will be considered the stuff of quackery and superstition 100 years from now. It takes a hell of a lot of faith to swallow many of the pills coming out of pharma, and I want people to think twice before doing so.

    In that case, you wouldn’t be a pharmacist in the first place. With the attitude held above, Plan B, Ortho Evra, or any other contraceptive (abortive or not) wouldn’t be any different than any other hormone-based drug therapy, and conscientious objection a la Benedict’s speech above wouldn’t come into the picture.

  65. When the pharmacist MUST became a licensed agent of the state in order to dispense drugs, the pharmacist is in essence an extension of the state.

    Getting a license doesn’t make you a licensed agent of the state. Some 30 years ago, somebody tried making the bogus argument that action by the holder of a state liquor license was “state action” for purposes of the 14th Amendment. The Supreme Court, in a rare moment of lucidity, rules that it wasn’t.

  66. Er, *ruled” that it wasn’t.

  67. make that *ruled*

  68. Even in a heavily egulated business, iI would find it uncoscionable to require a retailer tocarry and sell a product he/she doesn’t want to.

    Beer is a “highly regulated” business. Can/should the state to require Pierre’s Party Store to carry and sell Iron City and Lone Star beer? No friggin’ way! Pierre only wants to sell the stuff he approves of like Fischer, Desperados Tequila Flavoured Beer, Kronenbourg, and the like.

    Granted, Pierre is a snobbish, Renault driving, surrender monkey, but he shouldn’t have to sell that Pabst Blue Ribbon crap! He doesn’t need to give a reason to you, me, or the government why he doesn’t.

  69. Getting a license doesn’t make you a licensed agent of the state. Some 30 years ago, somebody tried making the bogus argument that action by the holder of a state liquor license was “state action” for purposes of the 14th Amendment. The Supreme Court, in a rare moment of lucidity, rules that it wasn’t.

    The business needs a license to sell booze, but anyone over 21 can dispense it to anyone else over 21. Last I checked you didn’t need to be licensed to be a liquor store clerk.

    ChicagoTom, does your highly regulated or protected criteria hold true for other businesses? How about the liquor store that won’t sell Everclear because it might be used to make crack (or whatever its illicit use is)? Or, how about a surgeon that refuses to use a certain approved technique because he/she doesn’t like it for whatever reason? Hairstylist that only does hair for people of certain ethnicities? Tradesman that will only do new construction? Prostitute that won’t service icky cutomers? Masseuse that won’t rub my sore genitals? I’m assuming you will apply some kind of criteria involving the necessity of the service?

    Your liquor store example isn’t actually apt. See above.

    As for the surgeon, sure, I would have no problem with forcing a surgeon to have to perform a surgery they “didn’t like”. Especially if they one of the few surgeons in your small town. And in an emergency situation where I don’t have a chance to pick and choose my surgeon, I would have no problems with compelling a surgeon to perform a medically necessary procedure despite his or her personal objections.

    The hairstylists example is one of discrimination, which I think is already illegal or at least actionable in court. But even if it weren’t you could cut your own hair or get a friend to do it or whatever, so I don’t think this is apt either. I can’t just give myself the drugs I need/want. I MUST go through a gatekeeper to get it.

    Prostitutes are already illegal and so is masseuse genital touching. You did notice the word “legal” in my posts, no?

  70. The Democratic Republican –
    “To answer “but the customer has the right to contraception” — true, but either 1) take Kerry’s advice and make it more widely available or 2) shop somewhere else.”

    No, it doesn’t work that way in this particular case, you are confusing the issue with talk of positive rights. The pharmacist in question works for Walgreen’s. He doesn’t own the pharmacy, he minds the store. The customer in question doesn’t have to go anywhere is she doesn’t want to. Instead she should be able to call the Manager & have him find a different pharmacist who will dispense the prescription. Meanwhile pharmacist Number 1 can recite the rosary. You example only holds if the Catholic Church buys Walgreen’s and sets company policy.
    The Army doesn’t respond to conscientious objection by halting the war; they toss the objector in the brig, find a replacement & keep shooting.

  71. As far as pharmacists working for someone else are concerned, obviously the employer has the right to tell them to dispense contraceptives or find another job. Such are the sacrifices one must make for one’s faith.

    But when you’re talking about an owner-pharmacist, I’m curious about how a mandatory-dispensing law would work. What happens if a pharmacist-owner simply refuses to stock contraceptives? Can the State force him or her to keep sufficient stock on hand under penalty of law?

  72. Even in a heavily egulated business, iI would find it uncoscionable to require a retailer tocarry and sell a product he/she doesn’t want to.

    I don’t think that is the issue. From the post:
    Something is off when access to contraception depends on who is working the late shift at Walgreen’s.

    It’s one thing if your drug store doesn’t want to sell condoms at all. But it’s quite another to carry them, but certain pharmacists refuse to dispense them.

    Furthermore, if birth control were over the counter, I don’t think anyone would be too upset if some retailers chose not to sell it. The market would sort that out, someone else will fill the void. But when you must be a pharmacists to dispense this stuff, the market is hampered from fixing the problem.

    But even despite that, I wouldn’t flinch if the regulators decided that in order to become a licensed pharmacist, you must carry or be willing to order any legal prescription-only product. If you chose to be in a profession where you are a gatekeeper, then you have to expect that the powers that be will regulate what limits on that power get placed on the gatekeepers. That would be a fair cost for the privilege of being a gatekeeper.

  73. Had a friend in grade school his dad owned a Rexall drug store. We thought it was a hoot sitting in the stock room using a very fine wire to poke holes in hundreds of dozens of condoms.
    That’s why they lock em up.

  74. lunch: I never claimed to be a pharmacist–my girlfriend’s studying pharmacy. I’m becoming a doctor.

    I can’t quite figure out what you’re disagreeing about?

    There’re actually a lot of doctors that are skeptical of drugs.

  75. This seems like a libertarian no-brainer issue — the owner of the pharmacy gets to choose what he or she or they want to stock and sell and the employee can work or not work there if not happy with that, and the customer can do the same.

    The fact that a RELIGIONOID with a FUNNY HAT declared it immoral with his IRRATIONOIDAL RELIGIOUS RELIGIOSITY makes a lot of Reasonoids forget simple basics.

    Like when Islamophobia was in full heat soon after 9/11 and people were practically making serious arguments for walling up Muslims in concentration camps. Well, after all, they are intolerant and dangerous RELIGIOUS IRRATIONAL RELIGIONOSITUDINOUS FOLLOWERS OF IMAGINARY FRIENDOIDS and my libertarianism therfore has an excuse to flee my brain to the secular fanatic idiot zone.

  76. Get rid of pharmacist licensing and/or controlled substances laws and nobody would care if one pharmacist doesn’t want to sell the pill.

    I agree. But that wasn’t the argument Kerry was making. She said “There is no reason why a woman’s access to contraception should depend on a single Roman Catholic with a conscience.” She is making the asinine assumption that women are dependent on a mythical singular pharmacist. If you happen to run across a Roman Catholic, then complain to the manager. Tell him you are a bigot and don’t like Roman Catholics. Then go to Rite-Aid.

    Sheesh.

  77. I think the general view of the medical profession (IANAD) holds pregnancy as implantation, not fertilization as a point of definition.

    I think this is interesting. I agree that the medical community now defines pregnancy as beginning at implantation. That’s how I learned it in pharmacy school in the late 90s, in our OB/GYN module in the context of emergency contraception (PlanB). But that was the first time I’d ever been exposed to the concept that implantation, rather than fertilization, should be the bright line for beginning of pregnancy. It always struck me that this definition seemed conveniently fit to the technology — since we discovered a way to use hormones to prevent implantation, let’s just say that implantation marks the beginning of pregnancy. Thus, PlanB is not an abortifacient. QED.

    “Life begins at conception” is a pro-life slogan that I remember from childhood, before I knew what abortion was. I’ve never seen a t-shirt that said “life begins at implantation”. But it’s really such a small difference that it’s meaningless except for the fact that PlanB exists.

    You could define it differently, but that’s a bit like saying that you could define a car as a truck because it’s got four wheels and can carry cargo. It’s true, but it isn’t the way that the language is used in the general sense.

    I agree, but I think you have it backwards. I’d argue that the general sense of “beginning of pregnancy” = “fertilization”. And I have a hunch that if it weren’t for the technology of PlanB, this would be true in the medical community as well. As jj points out, this makes the most sense from a genetics standpoint.

    Disclaimer: I’m very much pro-choice, I just don’t like semantic tricks like this.

  78. “Milder” symptoms: abdominal, pain, vomiting, mentrual changes, nervousness

    That’s because it gives the female a period. Those are side effects of a period.

    “If you have sex during ovulation, and fertilization occurs, you’ve only got something like a fifty percent chance of that blastocyst implanting. Typically we don’t consider such situations to be ‘pregnancies’ or ‘miscarriages’. They are generally considered failed conceptions.”

    Actually we do. It’s called a failed miscarriage. Women with early miscarriages are known to suffer from depression identical to those whose pregnancies last longer.

    Are you telling me that women who never knew that they were fertilized get depressed? I’d like to know, how that is figured out it they never know. Also, not every use of Plan B prevents implantation. In fact, moralist that slow down the process of getting Plan B, make it more likely that it’s preventing implantation rather than fertilization.

  79. But even despite that, I wouldn’t flinch if the regulators decided that in order to become a licensed pharmacist, you must carry or be willing to order any legal prescription-only product.

    LOL. You obviously don’t live in Detroit. Pharmacies all over the city refuse to stock prescription opioid pain medication because of the burglary and robbery problems. You want to force them to carry oxycontin? Who supports the widows?

    The only pharmacy in town is a red herring as well. There exist towns in the U.S. with no, that’s right, zero pharmacies. Nobody’s rights are being violated there. They have to go somewhere else to get it. Sounds familiar doesn’t it? I’m sorry, just because you have the right to buy something doesn’t mean someone has an obligation to sell it to you.

  80. MO: “Are you telling me that women who never knew that they were fertilized get depressed? I’d like to know, how that is figured out it they never know.”

    Early miscarriages cause depression–no one knows if they are miscarriages post or pre-implantation, as someone so memorably put it here “the blastocyst is on the sanitary towel.”

    Also, depression is a known, published side effect of Plan B use. (If you don’t believe me, read the fucking pharmaceutical advisory.)

    So you can’t have it both ways:
    – Either Plan B causes depression (but it is just good ole estrogen, I’m told)
    – Or else the depression is related to the early miscarriage (can’t be, I’m told).

    Thank god I’m surrounded by such impugnable logic!

  81. Thank you Mendelism for imparting some sense. I can only imagine that some people feel so defensive they must resort to semantics.

    As I’ve said before, I’m against govt having any part in this discussion. But an open, honest discussion would be wonderful.

  82. jj,

    Here’s the Plan B website with side effects. Nowhere on it does it list depression as a side effect. So either:
    a) Early miscarriage does not cause depression
    b) Plan B doesn’t cause early miscarriage

  83. Funny how you accuse the people here of dishonesty, claim that depression is in the medical advisory and yet the only place I found anything mentioning a link between Plan B and depression was the US Council of Catholic Bishops and Google Answers (where it was being debated). Nothing on the drug label or on Web MD (that liberal outpost) about it.

    Thank god for honest posters like jj.

  84. It’s nice to see this hasn’t been a full blown Anti-Catholic thread, as they always turn out.

    Listen, for the non-Catholics or my favorites “I was born Catholic” blah blah blahs, The Holy Father is only doing his job. Preaching what the Holy Father should be preaching. Why is that so hard for some to understand that.

    Secondly, I love the idea of opening a Catholic Pharmacy. Or allowing the stores to choose (theres that word choice again) what they want to put on the shelves. So in a sense, thats what the Holy Father’s saying “Hey, if you’re Catholic, be a good one and don’t sell the stuff”. Being that I am a Catholic , and if I owned a drug store, I wouldn’t sell it. Because I chose not to sell it. Even if it’s on moral grounds.

    Isn’t that the Libertarain way? I know it seems like a mini-friggin Daily Kos around here most of the time. But “Choice” doesn’t stop at killing an unborn child.

  85. Early miscarriages cause depression–no one knows if they are miscarriages post or pre-implantation,

    Are you studying to be a doctor or a lobbyist?

  86. Dear RegularRon,

    You seem like a very empathetic Muslim. Good work.

  87. The Jennifer who argued in favor of making contact lenses prescription-only was NOT me.

  88. Early miscarriages cause depression–no one knows if they are miscarriages post or pre-implantation, as someone so memorably put it here “the blastocyst is on the sanitary towel.”

    I’m fairly certain that nonimplantation doesn’t cause depression, and isn’t classified as a miscarriage.

    When a blastocyst fails to implant, it is passed with normal menstruation, and is significantly smaller than the head of a pin. It is barely detectible to the naked eye, and is certainly not recognizable. The number of women who never notice it is closer to 100% than 99.9%. Because the embryo failed to emplant in the uterine wall, it does not cause the physiological changes which signal ‘pregnancy’ to the human body. Women in such situations would never have a positive pregnancy test, because the body never detects or reacts to the embryo’s presence.

    So I’m curious what you think causes this depression. It’s not knowing they missed a chance at a baby, because the woman doesn’t detect it. She never knows she ‘miscarries’ (to use your term, which I dispute), so it’s not a response to known loss causing this depression you speak of. The body never reacted to the presence of the embryo, so it can’t be a hormonal reaction. The body reacts as if the fertilization never took place, and carries out normal menstruation, so that can’t be a cause of depression.

    My guess is that you’re thinking of miscarriages where the fetus implants badly, develops for a short period in the uterine wall, and then miscarries. Those undeniably do lead to depression in many cases. But Plan B is not effective once the embryo implants, so it’s not causing this kind of miscarriage (or at least does so too rarely to be an effective abortifacient).

    A quick review of miscarriage-related general-info sites on google report that 15-20% of pregnancies result in miscarriages. The general understanding is that the ratio of fertilizations that do not implant in the uterus is on the high side of 50%. At least one site refers to recurrent failed implantation and recurrent miscarriages as having overlapping causes, which leads me to believe that many in the medical profession see the two as separate issues.

  89. When the pharmacist MUST became a licensed agent of the state in order to dispense drugs, the pharmacist is in essence an extension of the state.

    So this would mean doctors, lawyers, and accountants are all extensions of the state as well? And can be ordered by teh state to do anything, even if it is contrary to their beliefs and the interests of their clients?

    I’m sorry, just because you have the right to buy something doesn’t mean someone has an obligation to sell it to you.

    Why are people kicking and screaming about this? This seems pretty straightforward to me.

    The alternative being argued for above is essentially a mandatory slippery slope – any government involvement not only opens the door to further government involvement, it mandates it.

  90. The other Jennifer,

    I kinda doubt you can properly and competently fit yourself for contacts

    Neither can my eye-doctor (optha? opti?, ornithopter?). Thats mostly because his patient sucks at the “which of these is better” game.

    However, Im a master at the eye puff game. I hear the internal hum of the machine just before the puff and successful blink and block every single time.

  91. ChicagoTom

    And I thought you could. When my wife buys contacts online, she merely tells them the specs, they don’t require proof of a prescription. (I don’t wear contacts or glasses so I may be wrong)

    You give them your doctor’s info, they check with them to verify prescriptions. You cant (or arent supposed to be able to) buy online without a valid and up-to-date prescription. It has recently changed to the prescription only being valid for 1 year instead of 2.

  92. So this would mean doctors, lawyers, and accountants are all extensions of the state as well? And can be ordered by teh state to do anything, even if it is contrary to their beliefs and the interests of their clients?

    Of course. The scope doesn’t extend to include “anything”, but all of those licensed (i.e. gov’t enforced monopoly) professions have standards and required practices that are enforced on licensees. This goes hand-in-hand with getting in bed with the state to enforce a monopoly. If those standards and required practices go against the beliefs of a potential practitioner, then they should examine their choice of professions.

    BTW, enforcement of professional standards would probably happen in Libertopia/ Anarchotopia, to an extent. Professions that are currently licensed by the state would presumably be certified by one or more private agencies (like UL does for consumer goods and building materials and practices). Personally, I would choose a pharmacist and doctor certified by an agency that required that its members not give a damn what some funny-hat-wearing guy in Rome has to say about medical practices.

    I’m not sure that the Pope has the qualifications to advise people on their professional and legal responsibilities. That sort of thing is usually restricted to professionals, whether they be attorneys (in the general case) or members of the particular profession in question. Maybe the next time the Pope comes through the states he should be arrested for practicing law without a license.

  93. I’d argue that the general sense of “beginning of pregnancy” = “fertilization”. And I have a hunch that if it weren’t for the technology of PlanB, this would be true in the medical community as well. As jj points out, this makes the most sense from a genetics standpoint.

    Mendelism, I don’t deny that from a developmental standpoint, life begins at conception. But ever since I found out that a a fertilized embryo might just not ‘catch’ in the uterine wall – which I’m pretty sure I learned in life science in the seventh grade – I’ve thought about it as ‘wow, it really sucks that you can fertilize the egg at the right time, and still not get pregnant.

    It’s just seemed intuitive to me. And the distinction made in the medical literature (which I reference above) between ‘failed implantation’ and ‘miscarriage’ leads me to believe that at least a substantial proportion of the medical establishment also sees a distinction between fertilization and pregnancy, wholly independent of any consideration of abortion or Plan B.

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