Monday, April 11, 2005

Conscience clauses and picky questions. Part 3.

Continuing our discussion of right-wing moralists, we're still talking about pinning down pro-life pharmacists on precisely (and I do mean precisely) what it is they want to be able to do. And, sometimes, the answers aren't always obvious.

As you've probably read here or elsewhere, certainly, these folks really don't want to dispense prescription birth control. But is that it? Would that be enough to make them happy? Not necessarily.

Unless there's a specific list of "banned" prescription drugs, it's not hard to imagine that each pharmacist will make their own decision on what they're comfortable with, making it impossible to predict how you'll be treated from pharmacy to pharmacy.

Most of these people will undoubtedly refuse to deal with birth control. Some might take it a bit further for personal reasons. Perhaps some female pharmacists, in a bad mood for one reason or another, might refuse to handle erectile dysfunction drugs. ("No Viagra for you, buddy.") And who's to say it stops with prescription drugs?

In one case, a Jewish pharmacist refused to sell condoms, claiming they violated his religious beliefs. Condoms? At this point, we've gone beyond prescription drugs and are now refusing to sell simple over-the-counter products. And does it have to end there? Which brings us back to the original question -- will there be a specific list of forbidden products for these pro-life people, or will everyone get to make their own list, making it horrendously confusing for customers who would never be sure what kind of reaction they're going to get based on where they go?

There is one partial solution to the above, albeit a really unsatisfactory one. In order to inconvenience the consumer as little as possible, part of the contract with the pro-lifers would be that, if they choose to follow their conscience, they must advertise this to the public in a clear and unmistakable way. This might require a large sign out front, reading something like:

This is a pro-life pharmacy and we reserve the right to refuse any customer based on our moral or religious beliefs.

It's not a perfect answer but (and I stress, but) if governments or governing boards are going to give these loons the power to opt out of serving the public based on their personal whims, those same loons should be forced to take responsibility for those beliefs and publicize them so everyone can decide whether or not to do business with them. It's a simple condition -- you want to exercise a conscience clause, then you have to warn the public way ahead of time so they can make alternate arrangements to take their business elsewhere. They're called "consequences". Deal with them.

But that's not even the end of the story. In the concluding part 4, we'll see what these folks really think of their customers.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This right-wing assault on our civil liberties is horrifying. This isn't democracy, it's a quasi-fascist theocracy.