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pharmacy vs. wingnuts: my $0.02

The American Center for Law and Justice, a theocon group led by so-called-evangelist Pat Robertson, has filed suit is to stop Illinois from requiring pharmacies to fill prescriptions for emergency contraception, saying that the law doesn’t allow pharmicists to refuse to fill prescriptions on religious or moral grounds.

This suit is wrong on so many levels.

First of all, the pharmacists’s job is to fill prescriptions – not to make moral or ethical judgements. If a pharmacist refuses to fill a prescription for moral or religious reasons, he should:

  1. find a colleague who will fill the prescription; and
  2. find a new line of work.

There are some phamacies that have done the right thing, including Walgreen’s, the store named in the suit for indefinitelty suspending five phamacists for refusing to fill orders for emergency contraception. This is the proper way to go about these things, a lesson that should be learned by Wal-Mart and Target.

Secondly, these people are hypocrites. They believe in helping people – at least that should be their motivation for becoming pharmacists. Yet they are denying help to people in need. Sure, this need may not fit the definition of “right” or “moral” by the pharmicist’s personal standards, but these judgements should not enter the picture. If they want to get Biblical, “judge not lest ye be judged” (Matthew 7:1).

Some will argue that “it’s what Jesus would have wanted.” But this, too, is not for the pharmacist to decide. If you believe the Bible, the ultimate arbiter is God. And most pious peoples’ discussions with God are extremely one-sided. If they are hearing direct words from God, perhaps pharmacy is not their ideal line of work.

And this ties into the general theocon misconception: that they are the only ones who know what the framers of the Consititution had in mind. Unless we can somehow bring forth the founding fathers to the 21st century, it’s impossible to say on most matters. There are some things that are very clear (e.g. the separation of powers to prevent a power grab by zealots, like I wrote about earlier today), but most of these things are now extremely out of context. No one group can know what, exactly, people like Jefferson, Madison, Washington and Hancock would think of today’s world.

And it is not for me – or anybody else, for that matter – to say. We have to work with the documents we’re given, and we need to use modern context for our decision making. That’s the only perspective we have.

So I hope that the Illinois court throws out this suit. If I were to refuse to do my job, I’d be fired – and Walgreen’s did the right thing. Pat Robertson and the ACLJ can crawl back under thr rock from whence they came.

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