Saturday, April 02, 2005

Good to see this

Gov. Rod Blagojevich does not agree that pharmacists have the right to refuse to fill prescriptions.
Gov. Rod Blagojevich approved an emergency rule Friday requiring pharmacies to fill birth control prescriptions quickly after a Chicago pharmacist refused to fill an order because of moral opposition to the drug
The rule apparently does allow a little room for the opposition:
Under the new rule, if a pharmacist does not fill the prescription because of a moral objection, another pharmacist must be available to fill it without delay.
Via Amanda at Pandagon.

I'm not terribly fond of our governor, but I think he's got this one right.

I don't understand the opposition to oral contraceptives. For one thing, we're talking about birth control here. You know, contraception. Preventing pregnancy before it starts is not equivalent to abortion in any way and in fact prevents abortion.

Furthermore, many women take these medications for reasons that have nothing to do with preventing pregnancy -- they regulate the hormones and cycles. One woman I know suffered very unpleasant symptoms before she started taking the pills, and, according to her doctor, the level of hormone imbalance could lead to other health problems down the line. Could someone please explain to me exactly why protecting her health should be considered immoral?

Finally, I have to wonder if the people who are so eager to let the pharmacists overrule their doctors due to "ethical concerns" would still feel that way if drugs that they needed were also threatened.**

For example, suppose a pharmacist had a sincere, religious belief that mental illness is caused by the devil and can be cured with prayer. That has about as much grounding in science as believing that birth control is immoral. Would people support that pharmacist's "right" to turn away patients with prozac prescriptions? Should a pharmacist be allowed to turn away people who need pain medication? Cancer drugs? Viagra? I'm sure someone could come up with a moral opposition to just about any drug.

Somehow, if those were the drugs that pharmacists complained about, I doubt we'd be having this conversation. The drugstores, and the law, would simply tell them that they should find a new line of work and that would be the end of it.

**Obviously, there are times when a pharmacist should overrule your doctor -- i.e., if you have a potential drug interaction. That would be overruling for a medical purpose -- which is entirely different than overruling due to what is essentially nothing more than a personal opinion regarding morality.

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